Understanding the Self

Understanding yourself involves exploring many different facets of yourself, including your self-

concept, which is how you think of yourself. Who we think we are, what our level of self-esteem is, and how we value ourselves also greatly in�uence how we communicate with others. Since most of us don’t live in isolation, how we develop and continue to grow as people is through our relationships and feedback from others.

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You have many selves—your material self, your social self, and your spiritual self (Beebe et al., 2017).

Your material self is how your self-concept is affected by your material possessions, where and how you live, and how you feel about your body. Your material self is born from social comparisons and cultural and family expectations and is often impacted by the media.

Let’s look at an example of how our different selves impact our self-concepts. Roberto is studying interpersonal communication and learning about how his self-concept in�uences the way he communicates with others. His �rst assignment is to do some self-exploration and describe his material self, social self, and spiritual self.

Roberto, starting with a description of his material self, decides that he identi�es himself with his new truck, a shiny red Ford F-150. Every Saturday morning, he washes his truck so that he can go cruising with his friends that evening. He is proud of his truck, especially when he feels others are admiring it.

He is also conscious that his new truck has helped give him a better reputation as a guy who is more successful. Roberto used to own an old, used car and was very self-conscious about people seeing him drive this car. He shares his friends’ beliefs that what you drive is important. His old, battered car made Roberto feel like a loser. Now that he owns his new truck, Roberto believes people are admiring him and, therefore, feels like a winner. Roberto is more con�dent now, especially when dating new girls.


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