On the Corner – “When’s the last time you had an encounter with that person who is you?”
by Bob Docter
An encounter, by definition, requires an interpersonal connection. There are always at least two involved. You “come upon someone,” or you meet someone unexpectedly. Sometimes, the word implies some kind of a confrontation.
The person I’m suggesting you come upon, you meet, or you confront in this encounter is between you and your self. It concerns the personal pronouns “I” and “me.” I hope this doesn’t frighten you too much. Just enjoy and learn from the process.
This requires you to deal with a considerable range of hyphenated words, all of which have the word self before the hyphen. Terms like self-concept, self-esteem, self-actualization, self-efficacy, self-talk and self-worth form the basis for this encounter.
Self-concept is a word—a label or labels you rattle around in your head that describe(s) your awareness and knowledge of your self, your beliefs, ideas, feelings, attitudes and expectations. This is the content, the what of your self. More often than not this label you use to summarize you to you changes somewhat in different situations.
Your self-esteem is “the personal judgment of worthiness or unworthiness, approval or disapproval expressed in the attitude you have toward yourself.” This becomes the evaluative component of the label.
Self-actualization describes how effective you believe your self to be in achieving your maximum potential. It relates to your effectiveness in dealing with the various needs with which life confronts all of us.
Self-efficacy is future oriented. It’s your sense that you can or cannot deal effectively with a particular task or responsibility.
The context of our world—those with whom we relate contribute mightily in shaping these hyphenated words within us.
Psychologist Don Hammachek explains that the self matures in a “social framework.” Each of our personality characteristics is “influenced in some way or other by our social interaction.” We take on the characteristics of the people with whom we associate—beginning with the family and then, in adolescence, the peer group. It is through these interactions that we develop and organize our interpersonal skills, extend our intelligence, build our belief system and acquire attitudes about our selves.
“Think on these things” – then briefly answer these questions with your first thought.
How would you describe your identity?
How good are you at what you do?
What labels do you use to describe you?
How often do these labels change?
What are the situations during which those labels change?
What are your values, your beliefs, your strengths and weaknesses?
Who has been most influential in your life?
Whom do you influence?
What are you doing to improve yourself?
Are you satisfied with your lifestyle?
How effective are you in growing as a complete human being?
How often do you engage in negative self-talk?
On the whole, are you satisfied with yourself?
How often do you put yourself down?
What’s your “self-respect level”?
What kind of expectations do you have about yourself in certain situations?
What do you discover when you assess your spirituality?
What kind of physical shape are you in?
How much do you engage in regular exercise?
Have you made a list of your ‘time waster’ behaviors?
What do you do to keep your mind active?
Do you love anyone deeply? Who?
Have you ever invited a stranger home for dinner?
How might the people with whom you live describe you?
Would friends describe you as “assertive”?
How effective are you in solving your problems?
When you get angry, what prior loss have you sustained?
Has your conscience worn out from over use?
What are you passionate about?
So, what discoveries came to your consciousness with this exercise? What conclusions might you make in relation to your answers? What feelings emerged as a result of this encounter?