Development

51

© A

nd re

w L

ev er

2 01

0, S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Self-Awareness

22

If I am because I am I, And you are you because you are you, Then I am, and you are But if I am I because you are you, And you are you because I am I, Then I am not, and you are not.

Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 51Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 51 11/18/09 12:32:05 PM11/18/09 12:32:05 PM

 

 

52 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

“Self-Image” Development

Reviewing the story above, we realize that people acquire a sense of self throughout their life. It is an ongoing process that evolves from our experi- ences and interactions with others within the environment. Signifi cant adults in our life also provide us with feedback as to who we are. Th is is the begin- ning of self-image development. In this chapter you can learn ways in which you can identify and better understand your real self and learn strategies to improve your self-esteem.

WAS I BORN THIS WAY? Are you born with a self-image or is it acquired? Most psychologists say that it is acquired. During infancy, early emotional experi- ences form the basis for its development (Eder and Mangeldorf 1997). Our self- image is aff ected by all the experiences we have had—successes and failures, compliments and “put downs,” happy times and sad times, personal thoughts and experiences, our own expectations and others’ expectations of us, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in our early adulthood. As you

Think about this My “Self-Image”—Student Story

In my memories of when I was a “little” kid, between the ages of two and four, it seemed like everything I would attempt would be a “No, No,” “No” to this, and “No” to that, and “No” to everything. For awhile I almost thought my name was “NoNo.” I soon learned that my life was much easier if I just sat and watched television.

Life was not much fun because I was afraid to try anything since I thought I would get in trouble. I didn’t think I was a very good kid since most of the people around me kept telling me that I wasn’t capable of doing anything. I thought it was because I was “no good” and “inferior,” but in reality I just wasn’t old enough to do what I wanted to do. I didn’t realize that.

When I turned six, I was excited because it was time to go to school like the “big kids.” It was a new life, and I needed a change. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was not as good as the rest of the kids. Th ey laughed at my overalls and shiny shoes. When it came time to select teams, I was the last to be picked since I was short, skinny, and wore glasses.

I wanted to be liked by the other students and my teachers, so I became the “class clown.” I needed attention and I got it, but it was the wrong type of attention. I became depressed and felt inferior to the people around me, so I withdrew into my own little world and isolated myself as much as I could. I would sit in the corner at school, and at home I would go to my room and draw.

My early school years were not fun. In middle school I got mixed up with the “wrong crowd.” I wanted to be accepted, so I thought I had to be like everyone else. I wanted to be part of a group with an identity so I got involved in a gang. In the meantime I tried a few drugs and got in trouble. It wasn’t a happy time in my life.

In ninth grade, I registered for an art class, not knowing what art was all about. Th e teacher asked the students to draw a picture. I turned mine in and the teacher thought it was great. Th e teacher thought that I had talent, but I knew better. I have been told that I am “dumb, inferior and not capable of accomplishing anything,” so why try. My teacher encouraged me and kept telling me how good I really was, so I kept trying. All of a sudden the other students were also telling me that I was good and I began to believe it. I became motivated to succeed in the fi eld of art. I overcame my depression, set some goals, found some friends that accepted me for being me and not because of my size or looks.

I am now a professional artist and feel good about myself and my life. I like people and accept them as they are and will allow them the freedom to grow and develop as an individual. I hope you will too.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 52Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 52 11/18/09 12:32:06 PM11/18/09 12:32:06 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 53

can see, a person’s self-concept is not a singular mental self-image, but a multifaceted system of related images and ideas ( Hermans 1996).

WHO ARE YOU? How many times have you asked yourself that ques- tion? Before we go on, take a few minutes and try to answer the question by writing twenty brief statements that begin with I am ___________. Aft er you have completed your list, examine it to fi nd ways that your self-image has evolved. It may have developed from your social world with statements such as: I am a Roman Catholic, I am a student, I am an adult, I am a mechanic; or it may refer to the nature of your inter- actions with others with statements such as: “I am a friendly person,” “I am a shy person,” “I am a family-oriented person,” “I am a political activist.” Still other statements may refer to traits that you attribute to yourself either because other people have attributed them to you or because you have seen that you stand out in those ways in comparison to other people: “I am short,” “I am good at math,” “I am conscien- tious.” You probably will not fi nd any self-statements in your list that do not stem in one way or another from your social environment. We will now begin to explore many of the theories and ideas of how you have become the person you are. Let us take a look at how other people infl uence our feelings about ourselves.

Signifi cant Others

We learn who we are from the way we are treated by the important people in our lives. Harry Stack Sullivan (1968) calls these important people signifi cant others . Sullivan goes to the extent of saying that a person is nothing more than the refl ected appraisal of signifi cant others. From the verbal or nonver- bal communication of these signifi cant others, we learn whether we are liked or disliked, accepted or unaccepted, worthy of respect or disdain, a success or a failure. If we are to have a strong self-concept, we need love, respect, and acceptance from the signifi cant others in our life. In essence, our self-image is shaped by those who have loved—or have not loved us.

WHO ARE THE SIGNIFICANT OTHERS IN YOUR LIFE? How have they aff ected your self-image? To whom are you a signifi cant other? Th ink about the kind of infl uence you are having on their self-image. Is it a positive or negative eff ect? You may be surprised to fi nd that if you are a parent, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a teacher, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a person that can have any impact on another individual, you are a signifi cant other.

A parent says to a child, “You better not try that, I don’t think you can do it.” You tell your husband, “Can’t you ever do anything right?” A teacher tells a student, “Everyone else in the class understands it, what’s wrong with you?” A son tells his mother, “You’re a ‘rotten’ parent, you made me this way.” Have you heard any of these comments? If we hear these comments too oft en, we soon begin to believe them, especially if the person saying them is important or signifi cant to us.

W here you are now, everything you are, everything you do,

begins with and is based on what I call your personal truth. By personal truth, I mean whatever it is that you, at the absolute, uncensored core of your being, have come to believe about you. This personal truth is critical, because if you believe it, if it is real to you, then it is for you the precise reality that you will live every day.

DR. PHIL MCGRAW

We learn who we are from the way we are treated by the important people in our lives.

Do you ever compare yourself to other people?

© io

fo to

2 01

0, S

hu tte

rs to

ck ©

P hi

l D at

e 20

10 , S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 53Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 53 11/18/09 12:32:07 PM11/18/09 12:32:07 PM

 

 

54 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

From all of these numerous experiences, we construct a mental blueprint of the sort of person we believe we are. Once an idea or belief about ourselves goes into this mental picture, it becomes “true” as far as we are personally c oncerned. We generally do not question its validity, but proceed to act upon it as if it were true. Most of our actions, feelings, responses, and even our abilities are consistent with this contracted self-image. If we see ourselves as incapable when we enter a math class, we will most likely experience dif- fi culty and failure. If you view yourself as well qualifi ed and capable as you are interviewed for a job, the interviewer will evaluate you on a positive basis, and this will improve your prospects of getting the job. Do you remember from chapter one what this process is called? Th is is oft en called the self- fulfi lling prophecy. For further discussion on the self-fulfi lling prophecy, refer to chapter one.

Do you ever compare yourself to other people? How does this compari- son infl uence your feelings about yourself?

GAINING SELFKNOWLEDGE FROM OUR PERCEPTIONS OF OTHERS: SOCIAL COMPARISON. How many times have you asked yourself such questions as, “Am I as good looking as Jake?” “Can I play tennis as well as Anne?” “Am I as smart as Marti?” We gain self-knowledge from our own behavior; we also gain it from others through social comparison , the process in which indi- viduals evaluate their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and abilities in relation to other people. Social comparison helps individuals evaluate themselves, tells them what their distinctive characteristics are, and aids them in building an identity. Some years ago, Leon Festinger (1954) proposed a theory of social comparison. He stressed that when no objective mean is available to evalu- ate our opinions and abilities, we compare ourselves with others. Festinger believed that we are more likely to compare ourselves with others who are similar to us than those who are dissimilar to us. We tend to compare our- selves with others of our own sex; males compare themselves to other males and females compare themselves to other females. Social comparison allows us a way to decide if we are the same or diff erent, inferior or superior.

Same or diff erent? How did you learn about your ethnicity or that you are male or female? A child that is told that he is a diff erent color than his school mates begins to see himself as diff erent. A 6’4” female student com- pares herself with her female school mates and perceives herself as weird. “All my friends are from Vietnam just like I am and this makes me feel like I’m part of the group, I’m the same as they are.” Th is perception of sameness or diff erence in relation to others has a great infl uence on how we perceive ourselves (Flora 2005).

Inferior or superior? We tend to decide whether we are superior or infe- rior by comparing ourselves to others. Are we attractive or ugly? A success or failure? Intelligent or dumb? It depends on those against whom we measure ourselves. In school we compare ourselves with other students, “I’m not as smart as Jose,” or “I’m more intelligent than Gretchen.” In sports we tend to compare ourselves with other athletes, “I’m a better racquetball player than Steve,” or “Ben’s a better quarterback than I am.”

Social comparison theory has been modifi ed over the years and continues to provide an important rationale for why we affi liate with others and how we come to know ourselves (Kimmel and Aronson 2009).

THE IMPORTANCE OF SELFCONCEPT. When our self-concept is intact and secure, we feel good. When it is threatened, we feel anxious and insecure.

M an’s main task in life is to give birth to himself. ERICH FROMM

A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company.

C.E. HUGHES

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 54Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 54 11/18/09 12:32:08 PM11/18/09 12:32:08 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 55

When it is adequate and one that we can be wholesomely proud of, we feel self-confi dent. We feel free to be ourselves and to express ourselves. When it is inadequate and an object of shame, we attempt to hide it rather than express it—we withdraw inside ourselves. If we have strong, positive feelings about ourselves, we want and feel that we deserve a good loving relationship, or a good job, and even a feeling of freedom—whatever we think of as the high- est good for us. On the other hand, if we have a poorly developed, negative, or inferior self-image, we may expect very little for ourselves. We may settle for second or third best because we feel that is all we deserve. In essence, we project to others the way we feel about ourselves. If we cannot like and respect ourselves, how can we ever hope other people will see us as worthy individu- als who have something to contribute to the world in which we live?

To gain a better understanding of how the self-image evolves over a life span, we need to study some of the traditional theories of personality that will provide us with a foundation of how we become aware of who we really are.

Personality Development

Th roughout our lives, we will be attempting to understand other people, such as our boyfriends or girlfriends, our bosses, our husbands or wives, or our teachers. In addition, we will also be attempting to understand ourselves. Th e following theories will help us gain an understanding of ourselves and the people around us. We will consider a variety of theories that will help you in the journey of fi nding yourself and answering the question, who am I.

Th e theory that has had the greatest impact on the fi eld of psychology was developed by Sigmund Freud. Th is theory has created a lot of controversy, not only within the realm of psychology, but also within our everyday lives—in literature, movies, child-rearing practices, the feminist movement, etc. Let us take a look at some of Freud’s ideas— Th e Psychodynamic approach .

SIGMUND FREUD. Freud’s theory of personality development provided the foundation for many other personality theories. Freud (1965) states that a person’s personality is made up of three distinct but interrelated parts: the id, ego, and superego.

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED AN ID? Th e id is composed of the basic bio- logical drives that motivate an individual. Th is includes the hunger drive, the thirst drive, sexual impulses, and other needs that assure survival and bring pleasure. Th e id operates according to the pleasure principle , which demands immediate gratifi cation of its urges. Many of Freud’s supporters feel that this could be the reason some people resort to drugs, alcohol, or some form of sexual gratifi cation. Th ey do not think about what they are doing, they just look for immediate gratifi cation. Th e id engages in primary process think- ing, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy-oriented. Th e id is present at birth and remains an active force throughout our life. We are not consciously aware of the actions of our id. As many of you have heard, Freud has received much of his criticism because of the emphasis he puts on the sexual impulses, pleasure drives, and their control over our behavior (Larsen and Buss 2008).

WHEN DOES THE SUPEREGO DEVELOP? Th e superego begins to develop aft er the age of four and is acquired from the environment around us. It consists of our values, morals, religious beliefs, and ideals of our parents and society.

R etrospectively, one can ask “Who am I?” But in practice, the answer has come before the question.

J.M. YINGER

I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing it to the end.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 55Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 55 11/18/09 12:32:08 PM11/18/09 12:32:08 PM

 

 

56 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Another name for the superego would be our conscience. Th e superego tells us what is right and wrong, what we should do and should not do— the moral component. Th is is the part of our personality that makes us feel guilty and experience anxiety. Th e superego attempts to limit the sexual and aggressive impulses of the id. As you can observe, the id and the superego are in confl ict. Each characteristic is trying to take control of your life. You could use the fol- lowing analogy—the id is the “devil” and the superego is “God,” each attempt- ing to control your life. If the id or the superego takes control of your life you may develop some form of personality disorder.

THE EGO TO THE RESCUE. Th ank goodness for the ego and the fact that it develops before the superego. Th e ego begins to develop aft er the fi rst year of life and begins to moderate and restrain the id by requiring it to seek grati- fi cation of its impulses through realistic and socially acceptable means. Th e ego the reality principle, is the rational, logical, and realistic part of your per- sonality that attempts to maintain balance between the id and superego. Th e confl ict between the id and the superego causes anxiety, which, in turn, leads the ego to create defense mechanisms to control the anxiety. Defense mecha- nisms will be discussed in chapter eight.

Freud’s theory has had a major impact in the fi eld of psychology. As you have observed, his theory has created a lot of controversy, but that is not at all bad. Many people became so upset with his ideas that they began doing seri- ous research in the fi eld of psychology, and since that time many new theo- ries have evolved. As you take additional psychology classes, you will study Freud’s theory and many of these other theories in more depth. We will take a brief look at a few of these theories in the following pages.

Most psychologists today think that Freud put too much emphasis on the biological drives, specifi cally the sex drive—the id. For example, Alfred Adler, a charter member of Freud’s inner circle, argued that the foremost human drive is not sexuality, but a striving for superiority. Also, Erik Erikson, an original follower of Freud, realized that the biological drives are important, but that the eff ects of the environment on our development and us are as important, if not more important. Let’s take a look at Adler and Erikson’s theories.

Adler’s Individual Psychology Theory

To Alfred Adler, personality arises from our attempts to overcome or com- pensate for fundamental feelings of inadequacy. Adler was responsible for coining the popular term inferiority complex , a concept, he argued, that underlies and motivates a great deal of human behavior. From his point of view, it is our natural drive for superiority that explains motivation, not sexual gratifi cation as envisioned by Freud. Adler viewed striving for superiority as a universal drive to adapt, improve oneself, and master life’s challenges. He felt that young children understandably feel weak and helpless in comparison to more competent older children and adults. Th ese early inferiority feelings supposedly motivate individuals to acquire new skills and develop new talents (Nevid and Rathus 2005).

Adler also noted that everyone has to work to overcome some feel- ings of inferiority. Compensation involves eff orts to overcome imagined or real weaknesses, limitations, or inferiorities by developing other areas of our personalities. Adler believed that compensation is entirely normal.

B ecoming is superior to being. PAUL KLUE

I am not what I think I am, I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.

AARON BLIEBERG AND HARRY LEUBLING

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 56Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 56 11/18/09 12:32:08 PM11/18/09 12:32:08 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 57

However, in some people, inferiority feelings can become excessive, resulting in what is called an inferior- ity complex, exaggerated feelings of weakness and inad- equacy. Adler thought that either parental pampering or parental neglect could cause an inferiority problem. He also believed that early childhood experiences exert momentous infl uences over adult personality.

Adler was careful to explain that an inferiority complex can distort the normal process of striving for superiority. He felt that some people engage in over- compensation in order to conceal their feelings of infe- riority. Instead of working to master life’s challenges, people with an inferiority complex work to achieve sta- tus, gain power over others, and acquire the trappings of success (fancy clothes, impressive cars, or whatever looks important to them). Unfortunately, they tend to fl aunt their success in an eff ort to cover up their underlying inferiority complex (Adler 1998).

ERIK ERIKSON. Erikson (1993) has identifi ed eight stages of psychosocial development that each individual experiences through his or her life. Each stage is characterized by specifi c tasks that must be mastered. If these tasks are not satisfi ed, an unfavorable outcome throws us off balance and makes it harder to deal with later crises. As each stage is completed, we continue to build toward a positive, healthy development and a satisfying life. Th ose who are plagued with unfavorable outcomes will continue to face frustration and confl ict while striving to develop as a person. A brief description of Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development follows (Feldman 2007).

Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development

1. Trust vs. Mistrust. During the fi rst years of life, a child is completely dependent on others for the satisfaction of his or her needs. If these needs are satisfi ed on a consistent basis, the child will feel comfortable and secure. If the child’s needs are not satisfi ed on a regular basis, mistrust will develop, and this may become the core of later insecurity and suspiciousness. Th is child will become mistrusting and fearful of others and have diffi culty developing close, trusting relationships with others in the future. 2. Autonomy vs. Doubt. During ages one through three, a child is attempting to become more independent. He or she is learning to walk, talk, explore, and become toilet trained. Th e people around him or her, especially the parents, help the child to develop a sense of independence and autonomy by encouraging him to try new skills and by reassuring him or her if he fails. Consistent discipline is also important during this time. If the parents are inconsistent, overprotective, or show disapproval while the child is attempting to do things on his or her own, he or she will become doubtful, unsure, and ashamed of himself or herself. If a child is told by a signifi cant other that he should be able to read or be toilet trained, s/he may wonder, “What is wrong with me? My parents say I should be able to do that but I can’t do it.” Th is child will feel doubtful and shameful of himself or herself and thus feel negative about

What is wrong with me?

© d

un da

ni m

2 01

0, S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 57Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 57 11/18/09 12:32:08 PM11/18/09 12:32:08 PM

 

 

58 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

his or her capabilities. A child that has accomplished some of these tasks and is given encouragement and positive reinforcement will feel confi dent and independent. 3. Initiative vs. Guilt. During the ages of four through fi ve, the child moves from simple self-control to an ability to take control. Th is is the questioning and exploring stage when a child wants to try anything and everything. Th e child becomes very curious about the world around himself or herself. If s/he is encouraged to take the initiative and explore the world, the child will feel good about himself or herself and will continue to be curious in the future. If the parents inhibit the child’s activities and curiosity, the child will feel guilty whenever he or she takes the initiative and thus cause the individual to become passive. Why try to do something if your parents keep showing disapproval? 4. Industry vs. Inferiority. Assume that the child is between the ages of six and twelve and is excited about life and motivated to solve problems and accomplish tasks. Th ese are the early school years when the child should be making new friends, joining clubs and teams, and succeeding in school. When a child has a task to complete, such as a homework assignment, or cookies to sell, or a wood car to make, the child should attempt to accomplish the task with encouragement from others. Th e parents should not intervene and complete the task for the child. Otherwise, the child will quickly learn that the parents will always complete the task, so why try? Or possibly the child will feel inferior and incapable because his or her parents always ended up completing the tasks for them. Many parents feel like they are being responsible parents by helping their children learn, but, in reality, they are hindering their development. During this stage, the child is becoming involved in the outside world, and other people such as teachers, classmates, and other adults can have a great infl uence on the child’s attitude toward himself or herself. 5. Identity vs. Role Confusion. Between the ages of twelve and twenty, a person is caught between childhood and adulthood. Th e major task to accomplish during this stage is to answer the question, “Who am I?” Adolescence is a turbulent time for many individuals. Mental and physical maturation brings on new feelings and new attitudes of which people are unsure. Should these new feelings and attitudes be expressed or inhibited—especially one’s new-found sex drive?

Our identity evolves from our self-perceptions and our relationships with others. People need to see themselves as positive, capable, and lovable individuals as well as having the feeling that they are accepted by others. Otherwise, they will experience role confusion , an uncertainty about who they are and where they are going. Role confusion may lead to a constant searching for acceptance and a feeling of belonging. Th is search for identity can lead people to unhealthy relationships and to alternatives such as drugs and gangs.

THE BEGINNING OF THE ADULT YEARS. Freud did not put much emphasis on the adult years, but Erikson noticed that we continue to go through diff erent stages as we age.

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation (20–40 years). Now that we feel good about ourselves and have an identity , we are ready to form meaningful relationships and learn to share with others. During the young adult years, we must develop the ability to care about others and express

B e yourself because if people don’t like you as you are, they’re not going to like you as someone you are trying to be.

JIMMY DEAN

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 58Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 58 11/18/09 12:32:09 PM11/18/09 12:32:09 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 59

a willingness to share experiences with them. Marriage and sexual intimacy does not guarantee these qualities. Failure to establish intimacy with others leads to a deep sense of isolation . Th e person feels lonely and uncared for in life. A person that satisfi es this stage is capable of developing close, intimate, and sharing relationships with others and feels comfortable and secure in these relationships. 7. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption (40–65 years). Until middle age, we seem to be preoccupied with ourselves. Even the intimacy stage is primarily for the self to prevent loneliness. Now we are ready to look beyond the self and look to the future, not only for ourselves, but also for others. Th is seems to be the best time to establish a family because we are concerned about the development and welfare of others. Th is is the time in our life when we feel productive and are concerned for the benefi t of humankind.

What about the individual who does not feel productive and also feels like he or she is not accomplishing any goals in life? Th is person feels trapped. Life loses its meaning and the person feels bitter, dreary, unfulfi lled, and stagnant. Th is person becomes preoccupied with the self, personal needs, and interests.

Daniel Levinson (1986) has written extensively about stages of adult development. According to Levinson, if people do not go through a mid-life transition, they will live a life of staleness and resignation. Some individuals, approximately two to fi ve percent of the population (McCrea and Costa 2005), will experience a painful and disruptive struggle, which is called the mid-life crisis. Th is is similar to the adolescent identity crisis (Erickson’s stage of identity versus role confusion), where the individual seeks a new identity or to fi nd an identity. Since these individuals have not satisfi ed their goals they had set for themselves, they experience frustration. It is not uncommon for individuals to divorce their spouses, quit their jobs, and attempt to start all over again. 8. Integrity vs. Despair (65 years–death). Old age should be a time of refl ection, when a person should be able to look back over the events of a lifetime with a sense of acceptance and satisfaction. Th is is the type of person who has tried to live life to its fullest. Th e individual who wished he or she could live life over again, and also feels cheated or deprived of any of the breaks in life, will live a life of regret and failure. Th is is the person that keeps saying, “What if . . .?” or “If I would have taken that opportunity” and because of this, feels depressed and will be unhappy the rest of his or her life.

As most people continue through this stage, they re-evaluate the meaning of life for themselves and ideally fi nd a new meaning that will help reduce fear and anxiety and help prepare them for facing death.

All of us need to continue to evaluate our lives on a regular basis. As long as we do this, we will not experience any traumatic transitions that will disrupt our lives (Gibbs, 2005). As you observe the above eight stages you notice that there is a positive and negative aspect of each stage. Are you able to identify the stage you are in right now? Are you able to identify the stages

L ife is an echo. What you send out—Comes back.

What you sow—You reap. What you give—You get. What you see in others—Exists in you.

ZIG ZIGLAR

What drems do you have for your life?

© b

io ra

ve n

20 10

, S hu

tte rs

to ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 59Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 59 11/18/09 12:32:09 PM11/18/09 12:32:09 PM

 

 

60 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

some of your friends are in? Erik Erikson was one of the fi rst psychologists to put some emphasis on the fact that we continue to go through developmental stages throughout our lives. Freud emphasized that the fi rst six years of life were the most important years.

D o not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

What traits do you think this woman possesses?

© D

ia na

L un

di n

20 10

, S hu

tte rs

to ck

Trait Theory

Your friends ask you to tell them about your brother. You tell them he tends to be domineering, anxious, optimistic, intelligent, and athletic. Are these terms you have used to describe other people? Many of us use terms like moody, smart, stupid, restless, impulsive, passive, care- ful, aggressive, quiet, reliable, shy, outgoing, etc. to describe people. Th e words you use to describe other people (and yourself) are called traits , relatively stable and consistent personal characteristics. Trait theorists are interested in measuring how people diff er (which key traits best describe them), and then in measuring how much they diff er (the degree of variation in traits within the individual and between the individuals). THE BIG FIVE. Because trait and type theories, developed by well- known psychologists, such as Gordon Allport, Raymond Cattell, and Hans Eysenck, follow a common sense approach, researchers today still fi nd them attractive. However, rather than speaking of hundreds of traits or of a few types, many theorists agree that there are fi ve broad catego- ries. Th ese fi ve major dimensions of personality have become known

There’s a Revolution Going On! (Many changes have taken place in the last 20 years)

There is a revolution going on in our “life-cycle” development. People are leaving childhood sooner, but they are taking longer to grow up and much longer to die. Look at some of the “happenings” that we have been hearing about.

Nine-year-old boys carrying a gun to school Nine-year-old girls developing breasts and pubic hair 16-year-olds divorcing their parents 35-year-old men still living at home with their parents 40-year-old women are just getting around to pregnancy 50-year-old men are forced into early retirement 55-year-old women can have egg donor babies 65-year-old women receive their doctorate degrees 70-year-old men reverse aging by 20 years with human growth hormones 80-year-olds run marathons 85-year-olds remarry and still enjoy sex More and more people are reaching the age of 100

There seems to be a shifting of all the stages of adulthood—by at least ten years. Adoles- cence is being prolonged, especially for the middle and upper class. Adulthood begins around 30. Most baby-boomers do not feel “grown up” until they are into their forties. When our parents turned 50, we thought they were old! Fifty is what 40 used to be; 60 is what 50 used to be. Middle age has already been pushed far into the 50s (Sheehy 2006). So what’s next?

Check This Out

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 60Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 60 11/18/09 12:32:09 PM11/18/09 12:32:09 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 61

Men or Women: Who’s the Better Leader? Americans believe women have the right stuff to be political leaders. When it comes to honesty, intelligence and a handful of other character traits they value highly in leaders, the public rates women superior to men, according to a nationwide Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey. Nevertheless, a mere 6% of respondents in the survey of 2,250 adults taken in August of 2008 say that, overall, women make better political leaders than men. About one-in-fi ve (21%) say men make the better leaders, while the vast majority (69%) say men and women make equally good leaders.

& YOU

GE NDER

What do you think about the survey results?

From Men or Women: Who’s the Better Leader, August 25, 2008. Copyright © 2008 by Pew Research Center. A Social and Demographic Trends Report. Reprinted by permission.

Honest

Men

20

Women

Leadership Traits: Women Rule! % saying this trait is more true of . . .

Intelligent

Hardworking

Decisive

Ambitious

Compassionate

Outgoing

Creative

Note: Traits listed in order of the public’s ranking of their importance to leadership. “Equally true” and “don’t know” responses are not shown.

14

28

44

34

5

28

11 62

47

80

34

33

28

38

50

as the Big Five (McCrae and Costa 1999; 2005). (You can easily remember the fi ve factors with the following mnemonic device by using the fi rst letters of each of the Big Five traits, which spells OCEAN.)

Many researchers are now convinced that the best way to describe person- ality and individual diff erences is to fi nd where people stand on the following dimensions: 1) openness to experience, 2) conscientiousness, 3) extroversion, 4) agreeableness, and 5) neuroticism. Like Cattell, McCrae and Costa main- tain that personality can be described adequately by measuring the basic traits that they’ve identifi ed. Th eir bold claim has been supported in many stud- ies by other researchers, and the fi ve-factor model has become the dominant conception of personality structure in contemporary psychology (John and Srivastava 2008). Th is is indicated, in part, by the fact that these dimensions are ones to which most people in many diff erent cultures refer in describing themselves.

S omehow we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 61Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 61 11/18/09 12:32:12 PM11/18/09 12:32:12 PM

 

 

Table 2.1 The “Big Five” Personality Factors

TRAIT DESCRIPTION OF HIGH SCORER

DESCRIPTION OF LOW SCORER

Openness to experience or

Not open

Imaginative Prefers variety Creative

Practical Prefers routine Uncreative

Conscientiousness or

Undirected

Responsible Organized Dependable

Negligent Disorganized Undependable

Extroversion or

Introversion

Talkative Expressive Active

Quiet Reserved Passive

Agreeableness or

Antagonistic

Good-natured Helpful Trusting

Irritable Stubborn Suspicious

Neuroticism or

Emotional stability

Worrying Anxious Insecure

Calm Self-controlled Secure

62 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Trait theories allow us to describe personality, but they do not necessarily help us understand how we developed these traits (Cloninger 2007). Yet, the above traits are stable across the life cycle; if you’re curious when young, you’re likely to be curious when older. Twin studies, as well as the universality and stability of these personality styles, point to a genetic basis (Fisher 2007). What about describing people in terms of temperament and personality type?

Personality Types

While there are many personality type indicators and/or tests available, per- haps the best known is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It is based on the theory of Carl Jung’s psychological types. In essence, we have mental or psychological preferences for performing certain tasks. According to type psychology, there are 16 basic personality types consisting of four dimen- sions. We will now discuss these four diff erent dichotomies or dimensions (Myers and Myers 1995).

EXTRAVERSION E OR INTROVERSION I. People who prefer extraversion like variety and action in their work and everyday activities. Th ey are sociable, naturally communicate energy and enthusiasm, and are particularly good at interacting with people. Extroverts prefer having people around them most of the time, and it is not unusual for them to act quickly, sometimes without thinking.

Introverts like having a great deal of time for quiet activities so they can concentrate, develop ideas, and refl ect on the day’s activities. In fact, one of their strong gift s is their natural ability to refl ect on decisions they need to make, so it is rare for them not to think through something very carefully before making a decision. Th ey keep their energy and enthusiasm inside, prefer working alone, and are quite comfortable with just a few very close friends.

I f a man does not keep pace with his companions,

perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step up to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Adapted from McCrae and Costa 1999; 2003.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 62Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 62 11/18/09 12:32:12 PM11/18/09 12:32:12 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 63

SENSING S OR INTUITION N. Individuals who prefer sensing are practical and realistic and like to use facts, details and examples to help them solve prob- lems. Th ey may distrust and ignore their inspirations, preferring to just con- tinue with what is, with some fi ne tuning. Sensing types like established ways of doing things, usually proceed step-by-step, and rarely make errors of fact.

People who prefer intuition enjoy solving new complex problems and are good at seeing the big picture, new possibilities, and new ways of doing things. It is common for them to rely heavily on insights and imagination. Th ey oft en follow their inspirations, good or bad, and oft en may make errors of fact. Intuitive types prefer change, sometimes radical, to continuation of what is and oft en proceed in bursts of energy, with slack periods in between.

THINKING T OR FEELING F. Th inkers prefer to use logical analysis and deep thought to make decisions, being careful to review the pros and cons of any decision they need to make. Th ey tend to be brief, concise, fi rm-minded, and can give criticism when appropriate. It is normal for them to be convinced by cool, impersonal reasoning and tend to use emotions and feelings as only cognitive data to weigh in the decision-making process.

Feelers tend to use personal values to make their decisions, while tak- ing time to consider how much they care and how much personal invest- ment they have for each of the alternatives. Th ese individuals are sociable and friendly, prefer harmony with others, dislike telling people unpleasant things, and tend to be sympathetic and appreciative. Th ey are convinced by personal information, enthusiastically delivered.

JUDGMENT J OR PERCEPTION P. Individuals who prefer a judging lifestyle tend to live in an organized, structured, planned way, desiring to regulate life and control it. Th ey prefer to “plan their work and work their plan,” and like to get things settled and fi nished. Th ese individuals create lists to keep them on schedule and oft en focus on the task to be done. It is important to note that judging does not mean judgmental of others—only as it refers to how one prefers to live their individual life.

Th ose who prefer a perceptive approach tend to live in a fl exible, unstruc- tured, and spontaneous manner. Th ey prefer to leave things open for last- minute changes and dislike deadlines, schedules, and may postpone tasks that need to be done. It is common for these individuals to present views as tenta- tive and modifi able. Perceptive individuals use lists to remind them of all the things they have to do someday.

If you are interested in taking the Myers Briggs questionnaire, your col- lege counseling service may have a version you can take, or you may have an opportunity in a class or seminar. Th e book Please Understand Me (Keirsey and Bates, 1998), off ers a questionnaire that provides scores in the four categories. Also, the Web Resources at the end of the chapter may be of help.

Now, it is time to return to our discussion of other theories that will help us understand how we have evolved into the individuals we are today.

Carl Rogers: Self-Theory—Humanistic Approach

Carl Rogers (1995) defi nes the development of the self-concept in terms of self-actualization , which is defi ned as the fulfi llment of one’s own com- pletely unique potential. Th e key to self-actualization is the self-concept.

T he merit of the MBTI is that it enables us to expect specifi c

personality differences in particular people and to cope with the people and differences in a constructive way.

ISABEL MYERS

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 63Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 63 11/18/09 12:32:12 PM11/18/09 12:32:12 PM

 

 

64 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Rogers maintains that the way we regard ourselves depends largely on the kind of regard given by others. In the ideal situation, love is given freely and does not depend on any specifi c aspects of behavior. Rogers calls this unconditional positive regard (Pastorino and Doyle-Portillo 2009). Uncon- ditional acceptance leads to unimpaired growth and the development of positive characteristics. Individuals who have received unconditional positive regard have a positive realistic self-concept, high self-esteem and feelings of self-respect. Rogers believes that a fully-functioning person lives totally in the present and is continually changing to make full use of their potential.

Th e diffi culties in functioning are caused by a lack of unconditional acceptance by others starting at birth. Many parents make their aff ection and approval conditional on certain kinds of behavior. If the child does what the parent says, the parent will love the child. If the child does not live up to parental expectations, the parent may show disapproval and withhold aff ec- tion. Consequently, the child attempts to live up to his parents’ expectations but cannot always be successful. Th is is the beginning of an unrealistic self- concept.

In order to become a self-actualized individual, we must accept ourselves as we are, the positive and the negative, with the potential to grow as a person and to accept others as they are, rather than wishing that they were somehow diff erent. We all need to learn to place a high value on the individuality and uniqueness of ourselves and others.

Th e self-accepting person is a participant in life rather than a spectator. He is inclined to be objective, spontaneous, emotional, and intellectually

honest. He tries to understand the interpersonal and environmental problems

he faces, but he also accepts his limitations in gaining true insight concerning them.

He works out the best adjustment to life of which he is capable, oft en without fully understanding all that is involved.

However, he is willing to experience the pleasures and discomfort of self-revelation: i.e., he accepts the mixed pain and joy that accompanies each change in his attitude and feeling toward himself and others.

His claims on life are, for the most part, reasonable. If he wants to be a member of the Country Club and yet cannot aff ord it, he fi nds other social and recreational outlets in keeping with his budget.

Th e self-accepting person without special talent or ability is able to emotionally share in the gift s of others without undue regret about his own inborn defi ciencies.

He does not brood about missed opportunities, lost causes, errors, and failures. Rather, he looks on them for what they can contribute to his doing things diff erently or better in the future.

He does not get stuck in the rut of irrational feelings of love, hate, envy, jealousy, suspicion, lust, and greed, because he lets each feeling spell out its special message for him.

The Self-Accepting Person

From Self-Acceptance by McDonald, Smith and Sutherland. Copyright by Th e Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Th e University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 64Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 64 11/18/09 12:32:12 PM11/18/09 12:32:12 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 65

Viktor Frankl: Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl (1998) states:

As humans, we are capable of self-awareness, which allows us to refl ect and to decide. With this awareness, we become free beings who are respon- sible for choosing the way we live and thus infl uence our own destiny.

Th is awareness of freedom and responsibility gives rise to existential anxiety, which is a basic human condition. Whether we like it or not, we are free, even though we may seek to avoid refl ecting on this freedom. Th e knowl- edge that we must choose leads to anxiety. Facing the ine vitable prospect of eventual death gives the present moment signifi cance, for we become aware that we do not have forever to accomplish our projects.

Our task is to create a life that has meaning and purpose . (Meaning, pur- pose, and self-actualization will be discussed in more detail in chapters nine and ten). As humans, we are unique in striving toward creating purposes and values that give meaning to living. To help you live life to its fullest, read consider this below.

Th is is an existential view of human nature that states that the signifi – cance of our existence is never fi xed once and for all. Rather, we continu- ally recreate ourselves through our goals. Humans are in a constant state of transition, emerging, evolving, and becoming. Being a person implies that we are discovering and making sense of our existence.

Virginia Satir: Self-Worth

Virginia Satir (1988; 2001) indicates in her writing that the crucial fac- tor in interpersonal relations—what happens inside people and between people— is the picture of the individual worth that each person carries around. A person who can appreciate his or her own self-worth will be able to see and respect the worth of others. She describes a human being who is living humanly as a person who understands, values, and develops

L ife has taught me so many lessons, it’s hard to decide

which one is of the greatest value, but one of the most important is this: Nobody will believe in you unless you believe in yourself.

LIBERACE (1919–1986) PIANIST

Consider this . . . Consider this . . .

Live Life to the Fullest

We are fi nite and we do not have an unlimited time to do what we want to do with our life. We have the potential to take action or not to act; inaction is a decision. We choose our actions, and, therefore, we can partially create our own destiny. Meaning is not automatically bestowed on us but is the product of our searching and of our

creating a unique purpose. Existential anxiety, which is basically a consciousness of our own freedom, is an essential

part of living; as we increase our awareness of the choices available to us, we also increase our sense of responsibility for the consequences of those choices.

We are basically alone, yet we have an opportunity to relate to other human beings.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 65Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 65 11/18/09 12:32:12 PM11/18/09 12:32:12 PM

 

 

66 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

his or her body, fi nding it useful and beautiful. Th is is a person who is honest about himself or herself and others, who is willing to take risks, to be creative, embrace change, who is feeling, loving, playful, authentic, and productive. She says that the person who is living humanly can stand on his or her own two feet, can love deeply and fi ght fairly and eff ectively, and can be on equally good terms with both his or her tenderness and his or her toughness.

Self-worth is learned, and the family is where it is basically acquired. Th ere is always hope that your life can change because you can always learn new things. Human beings can learn, grow, and change all their lives. Every per- son has a feeling of worth, positive or negative. Th e question is, which one is it—positive or negative?

DO YOU HAVE HIGH OR LOW SELFWORTH? If you have low self-worth or know someone with low self-worth, you can change or help the other per- son change. Do not blame other people for your problems or faults. You are already that way, but you can change. Look to the future. For others to change, a nurturing environment needs to be provided, and for you to change, a new environment is also needed. You will be able to develop and grow in an atmosphere where individual diff erences are appreciated, mis- takes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are fl exible—this is a nurturing environment. Satir describes the main points that help human beings change and grow:

Communication of feelings: all feelings are honorable—Express your 1. feelings—no one knows how you feel if you do not disclose your feelings to them. Belief that a person is able to grow and change—If you believe you can 2. change, you can. Restoring the use of the senses—take in the world and see freely, touch 3. freely, and hear freely.

WHAT IS IN THE POT OF SELFWORTH? Finally, it is essential that people are able to be in contact with themselves on a human basis. Unfortunately, peo- ple are oft en dominated by some kind of idea of “what is right” that is actu- ally not right. Satir uses a big pot that was used on her farm when she was a child as an analogy. Th ere were times when the pot was used for soup, soap, and fertilizer. Th ere were always two questions one had to ask about that pot to fi nd out if you could use it or whether you wanted to put your energy into

cleaning it out: 1) What is it full of? and 2) How full is it? Satir uses this “pot concept” to refer to how you feel about yourself, your self-worth.

Suppose your “pot” is full of a feeling you have had since childhood, such as hostility toward one of your par- ents because they abused you. Your inner thoughts say, “I must be a bad person since my parents always beat me. I’m no good. I must have deserved the abuse.” Your pot of self- worth is low because of your past experience. You are expe- riencing “self-defeating” thoughts. You can learn to change these feelings. You can change your “self-talk,” and tell your- self that you are a “good person.” You can read a good self- help book that may help you or you may seek professional counseling.

I am

me and I am okay.

VIRGINIA SATIR

36 oz.—

27 oz.—

18 oz.—

9 oz.—

Pot of Self-Worth

What will it take to fi ll your pot?

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 66Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 66 11/18/09 12:32:13 PM11/18/09 12:32:13 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 67

DOES YOUR POT OF SELFWORTH CHANGE? Your self-worth pot is constantly changing. One day you get an “A” on a test and you feel great, your pot of self- worth is full of good feelings. Th e next day you call someone on the phone for a date and you get turned down. Now your pot of self-worth is low—it has a lot of negative feelings in it. Knowing that you are a “good” person no matter what happens to you, will help you maintain a full pot of good feelings and help you succeed in life.

You must learn to free yourself of any rule decreeing that some feeling you have is not a human feeling. Th en you are free to function fully and free to make choices about what you want for your life.

How Do Our Thoughts and Our Environment Relate to the Development of Our Personality?

In chapter three we will discover how learning theory relates to the devel- opment of our personality, but in the meantime we will discover how our thoughts and our relationships with other people interrelate.

How Did I Get to Be the Person I Am Today?

Cognitive theories of personality point out that there are important indi- vidual diff erences in the way people think about and defi ne situations. Cognitive theories stress the mental processes through which people turn their sensations and perceptions into organized impressions of real- ity. Th ey emphasize that people actively choose their own environments to a great extent. People choose to enter those situations that they expect to be reinforcing and to avoid those that are unsatisfying and uncertain. As many of you have observed, some members of minority ethnic groups “stick together” on college campuses. Oft en times it is that these members are uncertain about whether they would be accepted if they ventured into diff erent ethnic friendships. Most of us tend to avoid relationships that we anticipate as unsatisfying by not attempting to start them and by continu- ing with familiar ones instead.

Th e cognitive emphasis to personality is the interaction of a person’s thoughts and behavior. It considers the uniqueness of human beings, espe- cially of their thought processes. It also assumes that human beings are decision makers, planners, and evaluators of their own behavior. Many con- temporary researchers claim that people can change their behavior, their conception of themselves, and their personalities in a short time if they are willing to change their thoughts. More oft en than not, we hope our cogni- tions are rational and sensible, thus enabling us to live and make decisions in emotionally healthy ways. But many times, our cognitive processing is irra- tional and nonsensible, and we may be totally unaware of it.

TALK TO YOURSELF. Use positive self-talk. It has been said that there is noth- ing wrong with talking to yourself, but if you should ever start answering back, then it is time to be concerned. Although going around talking to your- self in public may cause people to wonder about you, holding a dialogue is not only very useful, but also quite normal.

O ne can smile and smile and still be a villain. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

T he most important words we’ll ever utter are those

words we say to ourselves, about ourselves, when we’re by ourselves.

MAYA ANGELOU

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 67Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 67 11/18/09 12:32:13 PM11/18/09 12:32:13 PM

 

 

68 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

In fact, the inner conversations we have with ourselves can have a powerful eff ect on our emotional well-being and our motivation. Developing an awareness of precisely what we are saying to ourselves and about ourselves can help us understand why we react the way we do to various people and events in our lives.

Building self-esteem is easier with the help of positive self-talk (self- talk is discussed in depth in chapter eight). You may have discovered that negative self-talk can have a tremendous infl uence in the develop- ment of someone’s feelings about themselves—a poor self-concept.

THINKING POSITIVELY AND OPTIMISTICALLY. You may recall the words of a popular song by Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy” and it continues, “Cause when you worry, your face will frown and that will bring everything down.” Does this kind of thinking infl uence your behavior? Indeed it does. A positive mood improves our ability to process information more effi ciently, increases optimism, and raises self-esteem. A positive attitude enhances our sense of controlling our environment, and acting on this optimism can actually lead to more control over our circumstances. Since many of us are not positive thinkers and are more pessimistic than optimistic, how can we change this behavior?

Let’s take a brief look at what is called cognitive restructuring —the pro- cess of modifying thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Cognitive restructuring can be used to increase positive and optimistic thinking. Th is is also known as self-talk —the non-verbal, mental speech we use when we think about some- thing, solve problems, and make plans. Self-talk is very helpful in cognitive restructuring. Positive self-talk will allow you the freedom to build the confi – dence you need in order to reach your potential. Take a look at what you may be saying to yourself in Table 2.2.

Is there a relationship between the self-fulfi lling prophecy and positive self-talk? When you keep telling yourself, “I’m no good,” “I’ll never amount to anything,” “I’m a liar,” “Nobody likes me,” “Nobody will ever love me,” “I will never be able to pass math,” etc., you will discover that it unconsciously aff ects your attitude and behavior. Th is is why it is so important to monitor your self-talk.

You need to become aware of your self-talk. Several strategies are listed below that will help you monitor and fi ne tune your self-talk.

Does positive thinking infl uence your behavior?

© A

nd re

sr 2

01 0,

S hu

tte rs

to ck

Table 2.2 What Do You Tell Yourself? POSITIVE SELF-TALK NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

I sure am a good person. I am not a very good person.

I know I can do it. I cannot do anything right.

I am smarter than most people think. I sure am stupid.

I know, if I try hard enough, I can pass that math class.

I will never be able to pass math.

If I do not ask, I will never know if Cassandra will go out with me.

Cassandra would not want to go out with me.

I sure feel good. I feel depressed.

Sabi and Angie are two of my good friends.

Nobody likes me.

What can you say to yourself to make you feel more confi dent?

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 68Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 68 11/18/09 12:32:13 PM11/18/09 12:32:13 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 69

Mental health experts have discovered that this process has had a tremendous infl uence on the development of positive self-esteem for many people. Our thoughts have a great infl uence on our behavior, but we also need to look at the importance of external events and see how they are interrelated.

Cognitive and Social-Learning Theories

Two somewhat diff erent theories combine an emphasis on cognitive pro- cesses and a focus on social-learning processes. Some psychologists believe that we learn many of our behaviors either by conditioning or by observ- ing others and modeling our behavior aft er them. Like cognitive and social psychological theorists, they emphasize the importance of mental processes: How we think and feel about the situations we are in aff ects our behavior. So instead of focusing solely on how our environment controls us (learn- ing theory), social-cognitive theorists focus on how we and our environ- ment interact: How do we interpret and respond to external events? How do our schemas, our memories, and our expectations infl uence our behavior patterns?

Human beings are driven by neither inner forces nor environmental factors but rather by monitoring the impact of their behavior on other people, on the environment, and on themselves. We learn from our own experience and also learn vicariously by observing other people. We can also evaluate our own behavior according to personal standards and pro- vide ourselves with reinforcers, such as self-approval or disapproval. You expect to get at least a “B” in your psychology class, but the night before the fi nal exam you go to a party instead of studying. You only get a “C” for your grade. You tell yourself how dumb you were for not studying and feel disappointed in yourself.

Bandura’s (1996) theory explains the complex interaction of individual factors, behavior, and environmental stimuli. Each factor can infl uence or change the others, and the direction of change is rarely one-way; it is reciprocal or bidirectional. Th is is an interactive, reciprocal perspective that has inspired researchers to study how the environment shapes personal factors, such as self-control and self-concept, and how these, in turn, infl uence behavior.

WHAT IS RECIPROCAL DETERMINISM? We have repeated this statement many times, but we cannot recall who we should credit for it: “We react to others as others react to us; others react to us as we react to them.” “Behav- ior, internal personal factors, and environmental infl uences all operate as interlocking determinants of each other” (Bandura 2004). Reciprocal deter- minism is the interacting infl uences between person, behavior, and environ- ment. You respond to a new acquaintance as a happy, positive person, and they respond back to you on a positive basis. Your new acquaintance sees you as a friendly, happy person, and you feel good about yourself because they responded back to you on a positive basis. You have a new friend. You were reinforced positively for being friendly, and in the future you will most likely respond positively to other new acquaintances. Your younger sister would like to be just like you, a friendly, happy person. Everytime she tries to be nice and friendly to new people she seems to be rejected. She feels bad and thinks that people must think she is ugly or inferior, so she withdraws from people and becomes shy. She was not reinforced positively for being

Y our biggest competitor is your own view of your future.

WATTS WACKER AND JIM TAYLOR

I t is our choices that show what we truly are, far more

than our abilities.

HARRY POTTER

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 69Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 69 11/18/09 12:32:14 PM11/18/09 12:32:14 PM

 

 

70 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

friendly and she interpreted that response as an indication that she must be inferior or inadequate. Her behavior is being infl u- enced by her environment and she interprets the situation as positive or negative. Someone else may have interpreted the situation diff erently. Th ey may say to themselves that those other people were sure weird, and do not perceive their reac- tion as a negative response. Figure 2.1 will demonstrate how reciprocal determinism infl uences our behavior.

HOW DO ENVIRONMENTS AND PEOPLE INTERACT? We are both the products and the architects of our environment. Let’s take a look at some specifi c ways in which people and environments interact.

1. Our personalities shape how we interpret and react to events. A shy person is most likely to interpret a frown on someone’s face as a negative response, even though the person is not feeling well.

Personal Infl uences on Behavior The following categories of cognitive variables may have a tremendous infl uence on your behavior. Can you identify how these relate to your life?

1. Expectancies. What we have learned from our past experience leads us to form different expectations that help to determine our reactions to future events. You expect that your marriage will be the perfect relationship. When you discover that your spouse does not live up to your expectations, how do you feel? You expect to get a “D” in your calculus class, and you receive a “C.” How do you feel? Think back on some of your experiences. How have your expectations affected your life?

2. Competencies. Each of us have a different combination of abilities and skills that shape our responses to events. Juan and Kyla are both asked to give a speech at a local event. Juan thinks he is a good speaker, so he accepts, but Kyla does not feel competent as a public speaker, so she refuses the offer. What are your competencies and how have they infl uenced your behavior?

3. Personal Values. Our sense of priorities and values also shape our decisions and actions. You refuse the offer for a job in a store where they sell pornographic magazines, but accept the job as a sales clerk in a store that sells religious goods. Your values infl uenced your decision.

4. Encoding Strategies. We also have different ways of perceiving and categorizing experiences that shape our responses. One mother gets very angry at her teenager when she sees his messy room, while another mother takes it in stride and realizes that it is a stage most teenagers go through.

5. Self-Regulatory Systems. We also formulate goals, plans, and strategies that infl uence our actions. You decide to take a physics class because you are majoring in science, and even if you decide to drop science as your major, physics will help you in your other future pursuits. Another student decides that physics would be a waste of time and would not be benefi cial (Mischel 2007).

Check This Out

Behavioral factors

Cognitive factors

Environmental factors

Figure 2.1 Reciprocal determinism.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 70Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 70 11/18/09 12:32:14 PM11/18/09 12:32:14 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 71

2. Our personalities help create situations to which we react. You think your roommate is mad at you and you respond negatively to your roommate, and, thus, your roommate responds angrily toward you. Now you are being reinforced correctly for your response, you think. Originally your roommate was not mad at you, but because of your response your roommate now is mad. Has this ever happened to you?

3. Diff erent people choose diff erent environments. Th e type of party you go to, the friends you associate with, the music you listen to, the type of shows you watch on television, the places you hang out, the reading you do for pleasure—all are environments that you have chosen based on your beliefs, attitudes, and moods. Th e son of one of our colleagues was trying to decide which college to attend. He made his choice based on his liberal political beliefs. Most of the students attending that college will have similar political beliefs and will thus reinforce each other for having that belief. A person with a conservative orientation would not feel very comfortable at that college.

As you continue to read this book you will see how your thoughts, behavior, and environment interact to infl uence your behavior. You may want to refer to locus of control, self-effi cacy, and social learning theory in chapter three.

We now have some insight into how our personalities have evolved over a period of time. We have looked at a variety of theories that contribute to our development. What theory do you feel has had the greatest infl uence on you, or do you think that each theory has some valid points that you could use to jus- tify how your personality developed? An interesting project would be for you to write your own personality theory that best describes your development.

Now we need to take a look at the importance of the “self ”—your self- concept, self-image, and self- esteem. What kind of infl uence do these have on your behavior and how does the “self ” develop?

The Self

Th ere is new thinking about the self! Th e self is one of psychology’s most vig- orously researched topics. Every year it is amazing to see all the new studies that appear on “self-esteem,” “self-awareness,” and “self-monitoring.”

One example of new thinking about the self is the concept of “possible selves.” Your possible selves include your visions of the self you dream of becoming—the rich self, the thin self, the educated self, the successful self, and the admired self. Th ey also include the self you fear becoming—the unemployed self, the addicted self, the failure self, and the unloved self. Such selves motivate us by laying out specifi c goals to pursue and the energy to work toward them. As they say: “Th ose who dream most, achieve most.”

THE NATURE OF THE SELF. One of the main factors diff erentiating humans from other animals is awareness of “self.” As human beings, we can think, feel, and refl ect on who we are. We form an identity and attach a value to it.

T he person whom you’re with most in life is yourself and if

you don’t like yourself you’re always with somebody you don’t like .

MARC LEWIS

What kind of environment makes you happy?

© M

on ke

y B

us in

es s

Im ag

es 2

01 0,

S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 71Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 71 11/18/09 12:32:14 PM11/18/09 12:32:14 PM

 

 

72 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Who are YOU? Where are you headed? Does it make a diff erence that you exist?

Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates advised all seekers of wisdom to, “know thyself.” What Socrates realized and we have discovered since is that the most vibrant, compelling, and baffl ing reality we can know is, the self. It is diffi cult to defi ne and even more diffi cult to measure or even inves- tigate. Yet, such awareness of self is vital in knowing how people adjust to life.

Many ideas about the self have sprung from the humanistic-existential perspective, discussed earlier. Carl Rogers (1995) has summarized a number of important characteristics of the self as follows:

It is organized and consistent. 1. It includes one’s perceptions of all that comprises “I” or “me.” 2. It includes the relationship among I or me and other people and features 3. of life, as well as the value and importance of these relationships. Th e self is available to consciousness (we can become aware of it), but it 4. is not always conscious at any given moment. Th e shape of the self is constantly changing, yet always recognizable. 5.

The Person That Is Me If ever you should meet me the image you may see is just a mere refl ection of the person that is me.

The person I am really, the one deep down inside, is made of many feelings that I sometimes try to hide.

Feelings of doubt and worry, wondering how I will fi t in. Feelings of hope and longing, that someday I might win.

Feelings of frustration for answers I don’t know. Feelings for my loved ones. relationships that grow.

Feelings of loss and loneliness, of memories left behind. Feelings of excitement. for what I have yet to fi nd.

So remember when you meet me the image you may see is just a mere refl ection of the person that is me.

Tom Krause

Excerpt “The Person That Is Me” from the book Touching Hearts- Teaching Greatness by Tom Kruase. Used with permission of Universal Press Syndicate.

T he greatest discovery in our generation is that human

beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

WILLIAM JAMES

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 72Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 72 11/18/09 12:32:15 PM11/18/09 12:32:15 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 73

We are human. We wrestle with our humanness. Some of us struggle with insecurity or inferiority, some deal with emotional problems, while others face mental or sexual problems. Poverty, illness, and physical disability can also test us. Many feel the pain of gender, racial, or ethnic prejudice. It is as if each of us is given a special task or challenge to work on as part of life and part of what will enhance our growth as an individual. It is the joy of discovering ourselves as human beings, our personal growth, sharing our love with oth- ers, and the contribution we make to others’ lives that makes the process of life so exciting. Th e journey inward is life. Each of us must fi nd our own way.

Find Your Real Self

Th e Personal Self-Image is the part of self that includes physical, behavioral, and psychological characteristics that establish uniqueness. It also includes gender, racial or ethnic identity, age, and status. Your Personal Self-Image, who you think you are, is literally a package you put together from how others have seen and treated you and from your conclusions as you compared your- self to others. Your sense of identity is the end result of the interaction between your uniqueness and how others have reacted to it. It is the package you call me. But it is not the Real Self.

It is never who you are that hangs you up, but rather who you THINK you are. To discover your Real Self , it is important to separate the Real You from your Personal Self-Image. Lining up your self picture to fi t the “real you” is of the utmost importance. Th ere is probably no more exciting journey than that of Real Self discovery. Once your self-belief system is accurate, you are free of the low self-esteem trap. You are free to be the Real You. WHERE DID YOUR “PERSONAL SELFIMAGE” COME FROM? Your personal self-image includes past teach- ings about yourself. As a child, you build your sense of self based on what others told you about you. If you were exposed to large doses of put downs and belittlers, your personal self- image does not feel very pleasant. If you grew up in a very positive climate, your me package feels good to live in. Your personal self-image is simply a belief system you have con- structed about yourself. Th ese past learnings jell into a self which may or may not be accurate. But once past learnings are part of your self-image, you see the package you have put together as accurate, regardless of the facts.

Tom, for instance, was repeatedly told as a child that he was dumb because he was slow to learn to read. Because he bought that label, he ignored or denied any evidence of his academic ability and creativity. “Dumb” and “smart” do not mix, they are mutually exclusive. Tom held onto those negative messages he received from signifi cant people in his life, such as his parents and teachers. He also ignored any contrary evidence because it did not fi t the “dumb” profi le.

As an adult, Tom’s past learning limited the accuracy of his “Personal Self- Image.” He saw only evidence of being academically inferior. Years later, despite a college degree and a successful career, Tom still sees himself as “dumb.”

Each of us identifi es whatever qualities we learn to place aft er the words I am. Like Tom, we see such traits as truths about ourselves. Th ese truths or self-beliefs

I often marvel that while each man loves himself more than

anyone else, he sets less value on his own estimate than on the opinions of others.

MARCUS AURELIUS, A.D. 121–180 MEDITATIONS

How do you see yourself?

© u

ro sr

2 01

0, S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 73Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 73 11/18/09 12:32:15 PM11/18/09 12:32:15 PM

 

 

74 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

literally screen out any messages to the contrary. In this way, past teachings can limit our options. If your self-worth is low or shaky, you are still believing things about yourself that are untrue negative ideas programmed into you about You.

Th ere was a prisoner who spent years in his cell totally unaware that the door was unlocked. At any point he could have walked out. But because he assumed there was a lock on the door, he remained trapped. His false belief limited his behavior.

BECOMING AWARE OF THE SELF. Once you become aware that you are not locked into a prison of self-doubt, a whole new set of choices will open up. You become aware of new ways to see yourself, new ways you can behave, and new ways to relate. Of course, such choices and behaviors have been avail- able to you all along. Th e problem has been you did not fully appreciate your capabilities and potential. As Dr. Phil McGraw (2003) says in his bestseller, Self Matters , “What I want to help you do is stop dealing with opinions about yourself, and instead get in touch with the facts about yourself.”

Lack of awareness, of course, is the same as having no choice. It is up to you to increase your awareness about the Real You, so you can experience inner freedom. By increasing your awareness about yourself, you increase your choices in life. Carl Rogers (1995) described such a person as a fully- functioning person who feels inwardly free to move in any direction. Being a fully-functioning person can be a reality for you. If you strive to such an inner freedom, little can hold you back.

What about people from diff erent ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds? Will this diff erence have an infl uence on an individual’s self- concept?

M y Mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

PABLO PICASSO

What Is Your Cultural Orientation?

Answer the following questions Yes or No: Yes No

1. I like to live close to my good friends and family. _____ _____

2. To be superior, a person must stand-up for herself or himself. _____ _____

3. I enjoy meeting and talking to my neighbors every day. _____ _____

4. If the group is slowing me down, it is better to leave it and work alone. _____ _____

5. The larger the family, the more family problems there are. _____ _____

6. It is reasonable for a son to continue his father’s business. _____ _____

7. I can count on my relatives for help if I fi nd myself in any kind of trouble. _____ _____

8. In the long run, the only person you can count on is yourself. _____ _____

9. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose for classmates to group themselves for study and discussions. _____ _____

10. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. _____ _____

If you answered “yes” to questions 1, 3, 6, 7, and 9, you are more than likely from a collectivist orientation. If you answered “yes” to 2, 4, 5, 8, and 10, you are more than likely from an individualistic orientation. What does this mean?

D

IVERSIT

Y

FO CUS

ON

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 74Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 74 11/18/09 12:32:15 PM11/18/09 12:32:15 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 75

Self-Esteem

HOW TO APPRECIATE YOUR TRUE SELF. Th is chapter began with a description of the nature of self. Remember that as human beings, we have the ability to refl ect on who we are. We are aware of a unique identity. But we are not only aware of ourself, we attach a value to that self. So we can decide whether we will accept or reject our self, whether we are OK or not OK, whether we are good or bad. You are either a self-hater, self-doubter, or a self-affi rmer.

So this unique human ability we have—the ability we have to attach a value to our self—can lead to self rejection and tremendous emotional pain. Th e term self-esteem refers to the overall evaluation of oneself, whether one likes or dis- likes who one is, believes or doubts oneself, and values or belittles one’s worth. How you evaluate yourself is crucial to your psychological adjustment.

Does your cultural orientation infl uence your self-esteem?

Individualism vs. Collectivism

Over the years, social scientists have observed that cultures diff er to the extent to which they value individualism and the virtues of independence, autonomy, and self-reliance, or collectivism and the virtues of interdepen- dence, cooperation, and social harmony. In a collectivist society, a person is fi rst and foremost a loyal member of a family, team, company, church, state, and other groups. In an individualist culture, however, personal goals take priority over group allegiances. In what countries are these diff erent orientations most extreme? Th e United States, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands, in that order, are the most individualistic. While people from Venezuela, Colombia, Pakistan, Peru, Japan, Taiwan, and China are the most collectivistic (Triandis 1994).

Individualism and collectivism are so deeply ingrained in a culture that they mold our very self- conceptions and identities. Take a brief look at Table 2.3 and see how each culture may infl uence your personality and self-esteem.

THE BENEFITS OF SELFESTEEM. How we feel about our- selves is important. Research studies reveal the benefi ts of positive self-esteem and the hazards of self-righteous pride. High self-esteem—a feeling of self worth—pays dividends. People who feel good about themselves have fewer ulcers, fewer sleepless nights, succumb less to pressures to conform, are less likely to use drugs, are more persistent at diffi cult tasks, and are just plain happier (McKay and Fanning 2000).

A study in 1951 by Leaky showed that when a student’s self-esteem changed, so did performance. A later study found a positive correlation between self-esteem and grade-point average. Self-esteem was also related to teacher ratings of students and observations of classroom behavior. Students with higher levels of self-esteem generally performed at higher academic lev- els and got along more positively in the classroom. In terms of academic per- formance, a student’s IQ score may not be as important as the self-esteem rating. “Self-confi dence permits a child to perform; whereas brilliance may be trapped in low self-esteem” (Briggs 1986).

T o love oneself is the beginning of a life long

romance.

OSCAR WILDE

T here is as much difference between us and ourselves,

as between us and others.

MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE ESSAYS, 1588

What groups do you belong to?

© C

re at

is ta

2 01

0, S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 75Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 75 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

76 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Table 2.3 Individualism vs. Collectivism INDIVIDUALISM COLLECTIVISM

Concept of self Independent (identity from individual traits) Interdependent (identity from belonging)

Relationships Many, often temporary or casual; confrontation acceptable Few, close and enduring; harmony required

Attribution Behavior refl ects one’s personality and attitudes Behavior refl ects social norms and roles

Coping methods Changes reality Accommodates to reality

Morality Defi ned by individuals (self-based) Defi ned by the group (duty-based)

Life task Discover and express one’s uniqueness Maintain connections, fi t in

What matters Me-personal achievement and fulfi llment; rights and liberties We-group goals, and solidarity; social responsibilities and relationships

Adapted from Myers 2007, Triandis 1994.

Table 2.4 High Self-Esteem vs. Low Self-Esteem HIGH SELF-ESTEEM TRAITS LOW SELF-ESTEEM TRAITS

Perceives reality Avoid reality to avoid anxiety

Relatively undefensive Defensive

Spontaneous Reserved

Natural Plays a role

Task centered Self-centered

Enjoys being alone Oriented toward approval of others

Self-reliant Dependent

Feels kinship with humankind Us vs. Them

Relationships are intimate Relationships are casual

Non-judgmental of others Critical of others

Acceptance Strives to be perfect and avoid mistakes

Well-developed value system Values not clarifi ed

Philosophical sense of humor Hostile

Creative Creativity perceived as risky

Cooperative with others Views self as different from others

Makes growth choices Makes fear choices

Dares to be unpopular Conforming

Experiences without self-consciousness Considers what others think

Adapted from Bandura (2004) and McKay and Fanning (2000).

Briggs also stated that “self-esteem is the mainspring that slates every child for success or failure.” Self-esteem has a direct infl uence on the feeling of self-worth, on human relations, productivity, integrity, stability, and uncer- tainty. “Self-esteem is the armor that protects a person from the dragons of life: drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, and delinquency” (McKay and Fanning 2000).

Another benefi t of self-esteem is the ability to accept criticism and rejec- tion. Th ose with high self-esteem tend to view criticism as constructive. Th ey do not interpret a “no” as rejection. Instead, these individuals usually learn and “return with a more polished act.”

Clearly, self-esteem infl uences all aspects of life; in fact, it is the founda- tion upon which happiness and well-being are built.

H ave patience with all things but fi rst with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being.

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 76Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 76 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 77

THE COSTS OF LOW SELFESTEEM. Low self-esteem exacts costs. People who do not feel good about themselves are vulnerable to depression and failure. Th ose whose self-image falls short of what they think they ought to be are vulnerable to anxiety. Most counselors will agree that most of the clients that they encounter that are unhappy, frustrated, and in a state of despair are individuals that have impairments in self-acceptance and self-esteem. Th ere seems to be a correlation between self-esteem and life problems, but the oppo- site can also be true, that life problems may be the cause of low self-esteem. People who are negative about themselves also seem to be thin-skinned and judgmental (Baumgardner et al. 1989).

If you feel good about yourself, you are more apt to succeed in whatever you do. Both Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers emphasize the point that a “healthy” self-image pays dividends. Accept yourself, and you will fi nd it easier to accept others. Review Table 2.4 for the benefi ts.

WHAT IS THE SELFSERVING BIAS? Social psychologists have found that most people are not realistic in evaluating themselves, their capabilities, or their behavior. Th e self-serving bias is a person’s tendency to evaluate their own behavior as worthwhile, regardless of the situation. Most people consider themselves as more intelligent, more sensitive, more considerate, more likely to succeed, and more of a leader than they consider most other people. We tend to be self-enhancing and we oft en exaggerate positive beliefs about our- selves (Nier 2004).

People tend to take credit for their successes and blame others for their failures. Th at is, people assume that good things happen to them because they

A ll of us have inferiority complexes. JOHN POWELL, 1989

My Declaration of Self-Esteem I am me.

I was uniquely created by God. There’s not another human being in the whole world like me—I have my very own fi ngerprints and I have my very own thoughts. I was not stamped out of a mold like a Coca-Cola top to be the duplicate of another.

I own all of me—my body, and I can do with it what I choose; my mind, and all of its thoughts and ideas; my feelings, whether joyful or painful.

I own my ideals, my dreams, my hopes, my fantasies, my fears.

I reserve the right to think and feel differently from others and will grant to others their right to thoughts and feelings not identical with my own.

I own all my triumphs and successes. I own also all my failures and mistakes. I am the cause of what I do and am responsible for my own behavior. I will permit myself to be imperfect. When I make mistakes or fail, I will know that I am not the failure—I am still OK—and I will discard some parts of me that were unfi tting and will try new ways.

I will laugh freely and loudly at myself—a healthy self-affi rmation.

I will have fun living inside my skin.

I will remember that the door to everybody’s life needs this sign: Honor Thyself.

I have value and worth.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 77Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 77 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

78 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

deserve them and that bad things happen to other people because they deserve them. When something bad happens to you, you may blame it on bad luck or circumstances. When something bad happens to others, you may blame it on their carelessness or reckless behavior (attribution theory). Th e combina- tion attribution error and self-serving bias helps some people maintain their self-esteem and appear competent. Be careful because this may inhibit some people from having realistic goals, thus setting them up for disappointment.

Psychologists have focused on two possible explanations for the develop- ment and role of the self-serving bias. First, a self-serving bias meets people’s need for self-esteem and need to feel good about themselves in comparison to other people. It allows people to deal with their limitations and gives them the courage to venture into areas they normally might not explore. Self-serving biases allow people to present themselves to other people in a positive light. Psychologists explain self-serving bias as being partly due to an attempt to “save face” and protect self-esteem in the face of failure (Dunning et al. 1995). We all need to feel good about ourselves, and the self-serving bias allows us to do this.

On page 76 is a table illustrating characteristics of low self-esteem and high self-esteem.

Just knowing what traits a high self-esteemer has is not enough for most of us to embark upon the philosophical, emotional, and behavioral change nec- essary to increase our self-esteem. On the following pages is a list of strategies that provide a good start. Th is list is by no means complete because this pro- cess is ongoing and will continue your entire lifetime. Also remember that this is not an easy process. It not only takes work but requires the inner strength to put up with the anxiety that goes along with making change and making mistakes. Remember too, that not all these strategies will work for you. Th ink of this list as a menu from which you choose what you like, what fi ts, and from which you reject what you do not like and what does not fi t. So, here goes. Th is is no easy fi x, just an aid or guideline for you. And just because you are willing to try to judge yourself less oft en means you are a courageous person.

T he self-portraits that we actually believe, when we

are given freedom to voice them, are dramatically more positive than reality can sustain.

SHELLY TAYLOR—POSITIVE ILLUSIONS, 1989

Strategies to Improve Self-Esteem

1. Recognize That You are in Control of Your Self-Image. The fi rst thing you must do is recognize that you ultimately control the way you see yourself. You have the power to change your self-image. You have the choice to accept or reject feedback. Your self-image resides in your mind and is a product of your thinking. Although others may infl uence your self-concept, you are the fi nal authority.

People with low self-esteem tend to be more accepting of negative feedback about themselves than of positive feedback. Are they in control of their self-image? As people become aware of this they can begin to take control and learn to reject the negative feedback and take control of their own self-image.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 78Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 78 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 79

2. Be Able to Accept All Parts of Your Physical Appearance Now!!! Describe your age, height, weight, facial appearance, skin, hair, and specifi c body areas such as chest, waist, and legs. Then accept your body. Treasure it. It is what you have and it works. Say to yourself, “You are all I have and I will take care of you.” Judy started working on appreciating her body by completing an appearance inventory as follows:

middle age + large breasts + large brown eyes slim legs + dark curly hair – big nose black complexion – no chin

+ clear, young looking skin 5’5” – buckteeth – 150 lbs. – fat stomach + nice teeth – fat hips – too many fat cells

Then she went back over her list and put a plus next to descriptions that represented strengths to her, a minus by items she wanted to change, and did not mark the items she considered to be neutral. She also re-worded those minus statements to more accurate less judgmental statements:

Remember, low self-esteemers put off self-acceptance until they get that perfect body. It is imperative you treasure your body the way it is now.

3. Affi rm Your Strengths. As a result of cultural and parental conditioning, you may fi nd it anxiety provoking to give yourself credit for your assets. It is now time, however, to toot your own horn. Get a BIG piece of blank paper. List all your strengths. Think of all parts of your Real Self-Image.

Your physical appearance How you relate to others Your personality How others see you Your work/school/daily task performance Your mental functioning Your sexuality

T he purpose of life is undoubtedly to know

oneself.

MOHANDAS K. GANDHI

MINUS STATEMENT LESS JUDGMENTAL

Buckteeth Prominent front teeth

Fat belly 32 inch waist

Fat hips 40 inch hips

Big nose Distinctive nose

No chin Smaller chin

Too many fat cells Slightly overweight

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 79Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 79 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

80 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

It takes a concentrated effort to make this list. If you are having diffi culty thinking of strengths, think of how your best friend would describe you in each of these areas. Your list of strengths will be long if you are willing to put forth the effort and willing to experience the anxiety. Once you have listed many of the qualities in yourself you appreciate, that does not mean you will remember them. Remembering your strengths, particularly at the times when you feel most down on yourself requires a system. The following three strategies may help you really believe in your positive qualities:

A. Daily affi rmations. Write affi rmations for yourself each day. Make them believable, comforting, and supportive.

B. Reminder signs and notes. Many people who post positive messages report they reinforce and strengthen their personal sense of adequacy.

C. Active Integration. Recall specifi c examples and times when you clearly demonstrated your strengths. Transform your strengths into specifi c memories. This process will help to convince you that your list of positive qualities actually applies to you.

4. List Your Faults. There is nothing wrong with having faults. Every human being has them. The problem is not with your faults, but how you overrate them. The problem is that people use their faults for destructive self-attack and to condemn themselves. There are four basic rules to acknowledging weaknesses:

A. Use non-pejorative language—language that does not make a bad situation worse. Go through your list and eliminate all the words that have negative connotations. Banish certain words from your self-descriptive vocabulary; for example: fat, ugly, dumb, blabbermouth, etc.

B. Use accurate language. Confi ne yourself to the facts.

C. Be specifi c rather than general. Eliminate words such as always, never, anything, etc.

D. Find exceptions or corresponding strengths. This is essential for any item you feel particularly bad about.

5. Attain Legitimate Accomplishments and Successes. Accomplishing worthwhile activities is a major contributor to self esteem. It is also important to remember that accomplishments do not have to be “big”. They just have to be something that you achieved through hard work and commitment. Social science research suggests this sequence of events: Person establishes a goal . . . person pursues the goal . . . person achieves the goal . . . person develops esteem-like feelings. (Cole et al. 2004).

T hat you may retain your self-respect, it is better to

displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.

WILLIAM J.H. BOETCKER

Y ou will always be in fashion if you are true to yourself,

and only if you are true to yourself.

MAYA ANGELOU

How do you describe yourself?

© Y

ur i A

rc ur

s 20

10 , S

hu tte

rs to

ck

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 80Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 80 11/18/09 12:32:16 PM11/18/09 12:32:16 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 81

6. Make the Growth Choice Rather Than the Fear Choice. Reject rigidity. Take responsibility to direct your own life. If you are dissatisfi ed with your life as it is now, be willing to accept change. You promote your growth or fail to do that every time you make a decision. We are constantly making decisions whether to be honest or to lie, to try new things or be safe, to be open or be defensive. If you make each decision a choice for growth, you manifest courage.

7. Shed Perfectionistic Demands. Perfectionists, experts now know, are made and not born, commonly at an early age. Concern with mistakes and doubts about actions are absolute prerequisites for perfectionism. Real-world success hinges less on getting everything right than how you handle getting things wrong. There’s a difference between excellence and perfection. Excellence involves enjoying what you do. Perfection means not being satisfi ed—no matter what (Marano 2008).

8. Becoming More Synergistic. Maslow describes this as being involved with others. Become involved with other people and your work and leisure time will become more valuable to you. Make a commitment. Alfred Adler (1998) points out that we greatly promote our health and functioning by cooperation with others.

9. Do Not Overburden Yourself with Work. Take time for the pleasures in life. Enjoy the present and expand it. Plan for the future, but do not live it.

10. Keep a Diary. Record what you enjoy about your day. You may be doing things out of habit rather than because you enjoy them. By keeping a diary, you may discover that some of your activities do not make you happy. If this is the case, then you can actively make the attempt not to do these things any longer.

11. Keep a Sense of Humor. Laugh easily, enjoy a good joke, get fun out of life. Some of us do not know how to play. We take our life and ourselves too seriously. Perhaps we grew up in families in which there was not much fun and happiness. Remember to keep a balance in your life between work and play.

12. Do Not Be Afraid to Make Mistakes. You will make thousands of mistakes during your lifetime if you plan to live up to your creative potential. Do a personal mistake check, then increase the number of mistakes you make each day by 10%. You will take more risks, stretch, grow, and enjoy life more. You learn through experience. If you do not try something you may lose out on a lot of experiences in your life.

Everyone makes mistakes; do not worry about them. Forgive yourself for making mistakes. If you do not m]ake mistakes, you’re not trying. You learn from your mistakes.

So, there you have it. The twelve strategies listed here to help you to improve your self-esteem will give you a good start. As

T he best way to fi nd yourself is to lose yourself in the

service of others.

GANDHI

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 81Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 81 11/18/09 12:32:17 PM11/18/09 12:32:17 PM

 

 

82 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

your work progresses, you may come up with a few of your own that are not listed here. Just remember that as a child you were told all about who you were. Your sense of self came from others. As an adult, it is up to you to develop a realistic positive sense of self. To do this, you must be dedicated to the effort for a lifetime. It is not enough to just say you will love yourself. Your assumptions about yourself and about your world must be positive, healthy, realistic ones.

Do you take time for pleasures in life?

© M

on ke

y B

us in

es s

Im ag

es 2

01 0,

S

hu tte

rs to

ck

The Real Journey

At the beginning of the 20th century, sociologist Charles Cooley described the American identity as a “looking-glass self.” Our sense of ourselves, wrote Cooley, is formed by our imagination of the way we appear in the eyes of others. Other people are a looking glass in which we see not merely our own refl ection but a judgment about the value of that refl ection. (“Each to each a looking glass/refl ects the other that doth pass,” he wrote.) If we are lucky, we feel pride in that imagined self; if not, we feel mortifi cation (Elliott 2004).

Growth and change are not a destination, but rather a journey. All through our lives, if we are to function fully, we will continue to grow and change. Self- esteem is really so much more than just feeling good about oneself. Research- ers are quick to assert that excessive pride can be dangerous, and too few people really know how to be humble. Remember, narcissism is the tendency to regard oneself as grandiosely self-important. Self-esteem is about having respect for yourself and others. Self-esteem is about trusting your ability to make appropriate choices and cope eff ectively with adversity. According to self-esteem researcher Dr. Nathaniel Branden (2007), author of Th e Psychol- ogy of Self-Esteem, building self-esteem requires a life-long commitment to six principles and daily practices:

Living consciously. Maintain an unfl inching willingness to face reality, even when it is painful.

Self-acceptance. Experience and take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Self-responsibility. Realize that you alone are responsible for your life and well-being.

Self-assertiveness. Be authentic in your dealings with others. Do not pre- tend to be someone you’re not to avoid someone else’s disapproval.

Living purposefully. Identify your goals and the actions needed to attain them. Organize your priorities to meet those goals.

Personal integrity. Exemplify the values that you profess to admire.

S elf-esteem = self-effi cacy + self respect. NATHANIEL BRANDEN

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 82Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 82 11/18/09 12:32:17 PM11/18/09 12:32:17 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 83

In conclusion, authors Linda Sanford and Mary Ellen Donovan (1993) describe the power of self-esteem as follows:

Our level of self-esteem aff ects virtually everything we think, say and do. It aff ects how we see the world and our place in it. It aff ects how others in the world see and treat us. It aff ects the choices we make— choices about what we will do with our lives and with whom we will be involved. It aff ects our ability to take action to change things that need to be changed.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 83Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 83 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

84 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Chapter Review

Life is a journey. All through our lives, if we are to function fully, we will continue to grow and change.

■ People acquire a sense of self throughout their life; it is an ongoing process that evolves from our e xperiences and interactions with others within the environment.

■ If we are to have a strong self-concept, we need love, respect, and acceptance from the signifi cant others in our life. Who are the signifi cant others in your life and what impact have they had on your self-concept?

■ Th e self-fulfi lling prophecy has a great infl uence on a person’s image of himself or herself. ■ As we compare ourselves with others (social comparison) we gain a better understanding of ourselves,

be it positive, or negative. ■ When our self-concept is intact and secure, we feel good. When it is threatened, we feel anxious and

insecure. ■ Freud’s theory of personality development provides the foundation of many other personality theories.

Freud stated that the personality is made up of three distinct, but interrelated, parts: the id, the ego, and the superego.

■ Th e id is composed of the basic biological drives that motivate an individual, including the pleasure- seeking part of your personality. Th e ego is the rational, logical, and realistic part of your personality. Th e superego consists of our values, morals, religious beliefs, and ideals of our parents and society.

■ To Adler, personality arises from our attempts to overcome or compensate for fundamental feelings of inadequacy. Adler was responsible for coining the popular term “inferiority complex,” a concept, he argued, that underlies and motivates a great deal of human behavior. While he believed that everyone has to work to overcome some feelings of inferiority, Adler believed that some people overcompensate in order to conceal their feelings of inferiority.

■ Erik Erikson identifi ed eight stages of psychosocial development that each individual needs to satisfy throughout their life. Th ey include:

1. Trust vs. Mistrust, 2. Autonomy vs. Doubt, 3. Initiative vs. Guilt, 4. Industry vs. Inferiority, 5. Identity vs. Role Confusion, 6. Intimacy vs. Isolation, 7. Generativity vs. Self-Absorption, 8. Integrity vs. Despair.

■ Th e Myers Briggs Type Indicator covers four dimensions Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Th inking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judgment (J) or Perception (P).

■ Some psychologists have developed a personality theory that identifi es personality traits that many of us use to describe other people (and ourself). Th ese are called traits, which are relatively stable and consistent personal characteristics. Th is is known as the Big Five Model of Personality.

■ Your personality evolves from the Big Five, these traits include: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extra- version, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

■ Carl Roger’s Self-Th eory defi nes the development of the self-concept in terms of self-actualization, which is defi ned as the fulfi llment of one’s own completely unique personality. Unconditional positive regard (unconditioned acceptance) leads to unimpaired growth and the development of positive characteristics.

■ Viktor Frankl states that our task is to create a life that has meaning and purpose. ■ Virginia Satir’s Self-Worth theory indicates that what happens inside people and between people is the

picture of the individual worth that each person carries around. ■ Cognitive theories of personality point out that there are important individual diff erences in the way

people think about and defi ne situations.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 84Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 84 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 85

■ Building self-esteem is easier with the help of positive self-talk and thinking positively and optimistically. ■ Cognitive restructuring, the process of modifying thoughts, ideas, and beliefs, can be used to increase

positive and optimistic thinking. ■ Self talk is the non-verbal, mental speech we use when we think about something, solve problems, and

make plans. Positive or negative self-talk may have an infl uence on your self-concept. ■ Reciprocal determinism is the interacting infl uences between person, behavior, and environment. ■ Your personal self-image is the part of the self that includes physical, behavioral, and psychological

characteristics that establish uniqueness. ■ Th ere are many benefi ts to positive self-esteem, including better health, feeling happy, etc. ■ Th ere are many costs to low self-esteem, including poor health, not as happy, more frustration, poorer

work performance, etc. ■ Th e self-serving bias is a person’s tendency to evaluate his or her own behavior as worthwhile, regard-

less of the situation. ■ Individualistic societies value independence, autonomy, and self-reliance. Collectivistic societies value

interdependence, cooperation, and social harmony. ■ Individualism and collectivism are so deeply ingrained in a culture that they mold our self-concepts

and identities. ■ Th ere are many strategies to improve self-esteem, including:

1. Recognize that you are in control, 2. Accept your physical appearance—just the way you are, 3. Affi rm your strength, 4. List your faults, 5. Listen to your inner voice, 6. Keep a sense of humor, 7. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, etc.

■ Self-esteem researcher and author, Dr. Nathaniel Branden, says that building self-esteem requires a life-long commitment to six principles and daily practices: living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and personal integrity. Remember, narcissism is the tendency to regard oneself as grandiosely self-important. Th is attitude is dangerous.

Personal growth and self-awareness involve accepting ourselves and enjoying our relationships with others. Only “you” can make the choice whether you will live an enjoyable and fulfi lling life or one of stagnation.

Test Review Questions: Learning Outcomes

Why do we need to study about the development of the “self?” 1. Explain how signifi cant others infl uence a person’s self-image. 2. Defi ne and explain the following concepts of Freud: id, ego, superego. 3. Explain Alfred Adler’s theory of personality development and the inferiority complex. 4. Describe Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development. 5. Briefl y explain the four dimensions of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. 6. Explain how the Big Five Model of Personality has infl uenced your perception of others using the 7. “Big Five” Traits.

Describe how Carl Roger’s Self-Th eory infl uences the development of your personality. 8. Describe, briefl y, Viktor Frankl’s Search for Meaning theory. 9. Briefl y describe Virginia Satir’s theory of Self-Worth. 10. Defi ne Reciprocal Determinism and explain how our thoughts and our environment infl uence the 11. development of our personality.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 85Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 85 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

86 Chapter 2 Self-Awareness

Explain how cognitive and social-learning theories infl uence your self-image. 12. Describe the cognitive variables that infl uence your behavior. 13. Defi ne collectivism and individualism and explain how they may infl uence an individual’s 14. self-concept.

What are the costs of low self-esteem? Explain. 15. What are the benefi ts of having high self-esteem? Explain. 16. Defi ne the Self-Serving Bias and explain how it infl uences your behavior. 17. Briefl y explain the twelve strategies that will help you improve your self-esteem. 18. Defi ne narcissism and explain how Nathaniel Branden’s views of building self-esteem is exactly the 19. opposite from narcissism.

Agreeableness Autonomy vs. Doubt Cognitive Restructuring Cognitive Th eory Collectivism Compensation Conscientiousness Ego Extraversion or

Introversion Generativity vs.

Self-Absorption Id Individualism Industry vs. Inferiority Inferiority Complex Initiative vs. Guilt

Integrity vs. Despair Interpersonal Relations Intimacy vs. Isolation Judgment or Perception Mid-Life Crisis Mid-Life Transition Myers Briggs Type Indicat or Narcissism Neuroticism Openness Personal Self-Image Pot of Self-Worth Real Self Reciprocal Determinism Search for Meaning Self-Awareness Self-Esteem

Self-Image Self-Perception Self-Serving Bias Self-Th eory Self-Worth Sensing or Intuition Signifi cant Others Social Comparison Social-Learning Th eory Stages of Psychosocial

Development Superego Th inking or Feeling Trait Trust vs. Mistrust Unconditional Positive Regard

Key Terms

Refl ections

Do we have a choice in determining who we become? Explain. 1. How do our interactions with others help in discovering who we are? 2. Who are the signifi cant others in your life? What impact have they had on your life? Were they a 3. good infl uence or a bad infl uence? How does striving for perfection lead to emotional pain? 4. How does social comparison infl uence our self-image? 5. How has the id, ego, and superego infl uenced your behavior? 6. How has the concept of inferiority complex impacted your personality development? 7. Discuss the relationship between your life and Erikson’s Stages of Development. 8. Discuss your personality type on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. 9.

Why is it so diffi cult to make changes in our self-concept? 10. Discuss the cultural infl uences on a person’s development. 11. What theory of personality has had the greatest infl uence on your development? 12. How can excessive pride be dangerous? 13.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 86Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 86 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Chapter 2 Self-Awareness 87

Web Resources

www.queendom.com/tests/ An excellent Web site that has lots of free personality tests that you can take and score online.

www.keirsey.com This Web site is dedicated to personality/trait differences.

http://www.webheights.net/lovethyself/home.htm A resource directing visitors to books, online articles, and programs to enhance the self-worth of adults and children.

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 87Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 87 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 88Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 88 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

89

Name Date

The “Big Five” Test Purpose: To survey the “Big Five” Personality Traits.

Instructions:

I. Using the numbers on the scale from 1 to 5, indicate how true each of the following terms is in describing you.

1 = Not at all true of me: I am never this way.

2 = Mostly not true of me: I am rarely this way.

3 = Neither true nor untrue of me, or I can’t decide.

4 = Somewhat true of me: I am sometimes this way.

5 = Very true of me: I am very often this way.

1. _______ imaginative 2. _______ organized 3. _______ talkative

4. _______ sympathetic 5. _______ tense 6. _______ intelligent

7. _______ thorough 8. _______ assertive 9. _______ kind

10. _______ anxious 11. _______ original 12. _______ effi cient

13. _______ active 14. _______ soft-hearted 15. _______ nervous

16. _______ insightful 17. _______ responsible 18. _______ energetic

19. _______ warm 20. _______ worrying 21. _______ clever

22. _______ practical 23. _______ outgoing 24. _______ generous

25. _______ self-pitying

Instructions for Scoring: To compute your score for each of the fi ve scales, simply add your scores for the items that contribute to each of the scales.

Openness to Experience: 1, 6, 11, 16, 21 Your Score _______

Conscientiousness: 2, 7, 12, 17, 22 Your Score _______

Extraversion: 3, 8, 13, 18, 23 Your Score _______

Agreeableness: 4, 9, 14, 19, 24 Your Score _______

Neuroticism: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 Your Score _______

Note: Be sure and review Table 2.1 for a description of high and low scores. Also, review the next page for mean scores of men and women.

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 89Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 89 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

90

Mean scores for men and women on each of the scales are listed below:

Men Women

Openness to Experience 20.3 19.4

Conscientiousness 18.8 20.2

Extraversion 18.8 19.0

Agreeableness 18.8 22.2

Neuroticism 16.3 18.5

Discussion 1. Review the descriptions in the text of the fi ve types and answer the following: Do you agree or disagree with

your scores? Why or why not?

2. How do you think you could start to improve the areas where you scored the lowest?

Brody, N. and Erhlichman, H. (1998). Personality Psychology: The science of individuality. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 90Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 90 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

91

Name Date

I Am a Person Who Conveys Purpose: To become more aware of how you are perceived by others and how accurate you are in your perceptions of others.

Instructions:

I. Each person responds to the fi rst scale by circling the number on the continuum that indicates the way you convey yourself to others. Do not mark this the way you see yourself but the way you feel you come across to others.

II. Give the second form to a friend and have him or her evaluate you.

III. Looking at both scales, identify any discrepancies between the two. Ask your friend to discuss the discrepan- cies in terms of: “I see you this way because . . .”

I AM A PERSON WHO CONVEYS . . .

Personal warmth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Aloofness, coldness

Neat appearance 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Careless appearance

Cheerful disposition 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Unhappy disposition

Sincerity, genuineness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Insincerity, artifi ciality

Insecurity in behavior 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Confi dence in behavior

Reluctancy to talk with others

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Eagerness to talk with others

Desire to listen 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 No interest in listening

Primary concern for self

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Primary concern for others

Ability to express ideas and feelings

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Diffi culty in expressing ideas and feelings

Awareness of what is happening

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Lack of awareness of what is happening

Diffi culty in making other people comfortable

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ease in making other people comfortable

Talk too much 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Talk too little

Not intelligent 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Intelligent

Excitement, enthusiasm 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Dullness, apathy

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 91Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 91 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

92

____________________________ IS A PERSON WHO CONVEYS . . .

Personal warmth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Aloofness, coldness

Neat appearance 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Careless appearance

Cheerful disposition 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Unhappy disposition

Sincerity, genuineness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Insincerity, artifi ciality

Insecurity in behavior 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Confi dence in behavior

Reluctancy to talk with others

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Eagerness to talk with others

Desire to listen 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 No interest in listening

Primary concern for self 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Primary concern for others

Ability to express ideas and feelings

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Diffi culty in expressing ideas and feelings

Awareness of what is happening

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Lack of awareness of what is happening

Diffi culty in making other people comfortable

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ease in making other people comfortable

Talk too much 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Talk too little

Not intelligent 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Intelligent

Excitement, enthusiasm 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Dullness, apathy

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 92Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 92 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

93

Discussion 1. Many times we feel we convey a particular characteristic to others because that is the way we see ourselves.

What does this activity show us about our awareness and honesty in conveying our true self to others?

2. Did you have a realistic perception of yourself as compared to how the other person perceived you? Discuss the differences between your perceptions and the other person’s perceptions.

3. Discuss how our perceptions of another person affect our interactions with them.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 93Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 93 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 94Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 94 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

95

Name Date

Adjective Checklist Purpose: To provide an opportunity for the class members to reveal themselves to the other group members and to receive feedback on how the other group members perceive them.

Instructions:

I. Review the list of words and place a (+) next to the adjectives you think best describes you and a (–) next to the adjectives which are least descriptive of you.

II. Divide into groups of three or four.

III. Each member then shares, with the group, at least four adjectives most descriptive and least descriptive of them.

IV. Another option is to ask a friend, using the form on page 97, to place a (+) next to the adjectives he or she thinks best describes you and a (–) next to the adjectives which are least descriptive of you.

_______ accepting _______ sarcastic _______ insensitive

_______ self-accepting _______ dreamy _______ nervous

_______ anxious _______ silly _______ loving

_______ aggressive _______ selfi sh _______ ambitious

_______ original _______ carefree _______ authoritative

_______ happy _______ determined _______ calm

_______ vain _______ spontaneous _______ conforming

_______ controlling _______ tense _______ confi dent

_______ irritable _______ certain _______ intelligent

_______ worried _______ sentimental _______ observant

_______ rigid _______ unpredictable _______ obsessive

_______ brave _______ patient _______ relaxed

_______ responsible _______ extroverted _______ intuitive

_______ simple _______ hostile _______ serious

_______ proud _______ questioning _______ modest

_______ adaptable _______ remote _______ mature

_______ dependent _______ shy _______ unsympathetic

_______ effervescent _______ warm _______ immature

_______ thoughtful _______ withdrawn _______ objective

_______ lazy _______ bitter _______ religious

_______ dependable _______ independent _______ organized

_______ mystical _______ naive _______ unorganized

_______ inconsiderate _______ complex _______ sympathetic

_______ understanding _______ sensitive _______ temperamental

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 95Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 95 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Discussion 1. What did you fi nd out about yourself as a result of this activity?

2. What is the one adjective that causes you the greatest amount of diffi culty in relationships with other people? Explain.

96

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 96Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 96 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

97

Name Date

Other Person’s Adjective Checklist Instructions:

I. Review the list of words and place a (+) next to the adjectives you think best describes your friend and a (–) next to the adjectives which are least descriptive of your friend.

_______ accepting _______ sarcastic _______ insensitive

_______ self-accepting _______ dreamy _______ nervous

_______ anxious _______ silly _______ loving

_______ aggressive _______ selfi sh _______ ambitious

_______ original _______ carefree _______ authoritative

_______ happy _______ determined _______ calm

_______ vain _______ spontaneous _______ conforming

_______ controlling _______ tense _______ confi dent

_______ irritable _______ certain _______ intelligent

_______ worried _______ sentimental _______ observant

_______ rigid _______ unpredictable _______ obsessive

_______ brave _______ patient _______ relaxed

_______ responsible _______ extroverted _______ intuitive

_______ simple _______ hostile _______ serious

_______ proud _______ questioning _______ modest

_______ adaptable _______ remote _______ mature

_______ dependent _______ shy _______ unsympathetic

_______ effervescent _______ warm _______ immature

_______ thoughtful _______ withdrawn _______ objective

_______ lazy _______ bitter _______ religious

_______ dependable _______ independent _______ organized

_______ mystical _______ naive _______ unorganized

_______ inconsiderate _______ complex _______ sympathetic

_______ understanding _______ sensitive _______ temperamental

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 97Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 97 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 98Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 98 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

99

Name Date

The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale Purpose: The scale below is a widely used research instrument that taps respondents’ feelings of general self-esteem.

Instructions: Using the scale below, indicate your agreement with each of the following statements.

1 2 3 4

Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree

_______ 1. I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal basis with others.

_______ 2. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.

_______ 3. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.

_______ 4. I am able to do most things as well as most other people.

_______ 5. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.

_______ 6. I take a positive attitude toward myself.

_______ 7. On the whole, I am satisfi ed with myself.

_______ 8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.

_______ 9. I certainly feel useless at times.

_______ 10. At times I think I am no good at all.

Scoring: To calculate your score, fi rst reverse the scoring for the fi ve negatively worded items (3, 5, 8, 9, and 10) as follows: 1 = 4, 2 = 3, 3 = 2, 4 = 1. Then sum your scores across the 10 items. Your total score should fall between 10 and 40. A higher score indicates higher self-esteem.

Discussion 1. Do you agree or disagree with your score? Why or why not?

2. From the strategies to improve self-esteem discussed in the text, what do you think you need to do to improve your self-esteem?

Adapted from Society and the Adolescent Self-Image by M. Rosenberg, Princteton University Press.

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 99Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 99 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 100Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 100 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

101

Name Date

Do Gender Roles Still Exist? Purpose: Discover how you and others perceive gender roles and issues.

Instructions: In the spaces below, list ten characteristics and behaviors that you associate with being male and female in our society.

I. You may either do this activity individually or with a partner. An interesting alternative would be to divide your pairs by sex; males with males and females with females. This will help the class see whether there is a distinct perceived difference or not.

Males Females

1. ________________________________________

2. ________________________________________

3. ________________________________________

4. ________________________________________

5. ________________________________________

6. ________________________________________

7. ________________________________________

8. ________________________________________

9. ________________________________________

10. ________________________________________

1. ________________________________________

2. ________________________________________

3. ________________________________________

4. ________________________________________

5. ________________________________________

6. ________________________________________

7. ________________________________________

8. ________________________________________

9. ________________________________________

10. ________________________________________

II. Before you go on, make two copies of the list and set them aside for now.

III. Look at the list of the 20 different characteristics, both male and female, and circle the ones that best apply to you. You may discover that you identify with some characteristics of the opposite sex. How many of them did you select?

IV. Divide into small groups of 3–5 individuals and answer the following questions.

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 101Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 101 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

102

Discussion 1. Did the females in the group circle more of the male characteristics than males circled of the female

characteristics? If so, why?

2. Are there some characteristics of the opposite sex that you wish could be attributed to members of your sex? Which ones are they? Why would you like them attributed to your sex?

3. Do you feel our defi nitions of gender roles are preventing you from behaving or developing in the ways you would prefer? Explain.

4. How has gender role infl uenced your personality development?

5. How could we best eliminate the effects of gender role development in our society?

V. Now give the copy of the list that you previously made to someone that knows you well and ask them to circle the characteristics that best apply to you, using both male and female characteristics. When they have completed the list, compare your list with theirs. How we see ourselves is not always how others see us. How close did your list compare with your friends? What might the difference tell you about yourself?

VI. Give the other copy of the list to someone who knows you well that is at least ten years or more older or younger than you, and do the same as in previous question. Is there a difference because of age? If there is a difference, why?

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 102Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 102 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

103

Name Date

Human Relations Position Paper Purpose: To analyze your present position, based upon your past experiences and learning, in order to have a better idea of the direction in which you want to move in the future.

Instructions:

I. A Human Relations Position Paper should represent a critical analysis of those factors that have brought you to this point in your life and have made you what you are. It should also include your plans for the future.

II. No one but you and your instructor will read your position paper unless, of course, you choose to show it to someone else. Your instructor considers it completely confi dential.

III. As a guide for preparing your position paper, the following outline is suggested. This is intended only as a guide, and you may add or delete whatever items you choose.

IV. Anything that helps you arrive at your position and chart your course of action (from poetry to pictures to words) is acceptable.

V. Your instructor will determine the length of this paper. We suggest fi ve pages.

Human Relations Position Paper Outline I. The Person I Am (Include the infl uential factors which have contributed to making you what you are).

A. Infl uence of Family Background 1. Relationship with parents 2. Relationship with siblings 3. Socioeconomic setting 4. Family’s expectations 5. Other

B. Adolescence 1. School experience 2. Peer group (left out/included—Why?) 3. Successes/Failures and their effect 4. Infl uential adults other than parents 5. Other

C. Personal Sexuality 1. Dating experiences and its effect 2. “Facts of life” information or misinformation and its effect 3. My “role” as a man/woman 4. My attitudes toward the opposite sex 5. Other

D. Goals for Future 1. How have I arrived at my goals? 2. Occupational choice—Why? 3. Feelings of personal adequacy or inadequacy 4. Degree of fl exibility 5. Infl uential people 6. Other

(continued)

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 103Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 103 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

104

II. Where Do I Go From Here?

A. Summary of Present Position 1. How do I see myself/how do others see me? 2. How well do I communicate? 3. Value system 4. Relationships with others (OKness) 5. My view of a meaningful occupation a. What I expect b. What’s expected of me c. My chances for success 6. How I view my sexuality a. In relation to marriage b. “Role” expectations c. Understanding of needs

B. Plans for Future 1. What is the Good Life for me? a. How I will achieve it b. How it relates to my value system c. How it relates to my chosen occupation 2. What are my priorities for future? 3. Do I want to “go it alone” or build relationships with others? a. How I will do this 4. Do I want to share my life with someone else in marriage? a. My responsibilities b. What I expect of others 5. What will my biggest problems be?

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 104Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 104 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

105

Name Date

Self-Awareness Learning Journal

Select the statement below that best defi nes your feelings about the personal value or meaning gained from this chapter and respond below the dotted line.

I learned that I . . . I was surprised that I . . .

I realized that I . . . I was pleased that I . . .

I discovered that I . . . I was displeased that I . . .

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 105Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 105 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

 

 

Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 106Walker_Becoming Aware11E_Ch02_Printer_Pdf.indd 106 11/18/09 12:32:18 PM11/18/09 12:32:18 PM

"Is this question part of your assignment? We can help"

ORDER NOW