Self Concept

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona



How do you feel about yourself? Do you support yourself? Do you expect too much or not enough of yourself? Do you have a good self concept? What is self concept? To put it in other words, self concept is self esteem.* To have self esteem is to respect yourself. Appreciation of who you are is as self esteem. You must be aware of your weaknesses as well as your strengths. You must believe in yourself and accept yourself to have a positive self concept. You will be able to accept mistakes or setbacks without shame, guilt, or blame. You will learn to accept the weaknesses and mistakes of others. As you develop a positive self concept, the feeling that you need to prove yourself to others will lessen. You can approach tasks without fear of failure or defeat. Relationships with others will become stronger. More people will want to be around you. You will be capable of facing all!


    A positive self concept or esteem is essential to a person for a variety of reasons. It makes no difference what point in life or career position in which a person may be situated. Having a positive self concept will allow a better chance for success. Individuals avoid playing false roles when they convince others everything is going well or blaming others for the way you feel. A person with a positive self concept will not be bitter, but better. Striving for self esteem brings out the potential for leadership in an individual. A. H. Maslow writes that all persons need a "stable, firmly based, usually high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect or self-esteem, or respect from others."

  2. A positive self concept can lead to many rewards:

    1. Stronger self; More confidence
    2. More trust in own ideas, skills, and knowledge
    3. Able to turn opportunities into realities
    4. Use mistakes to learn and improve
    5. Gain endurance and fortitude
    6. Fears and obstacles will not stop progress
    7. More dynamic and interesting person.
    8. Gain social approval
    9. Able to focus thoughts toward bigger aspects of life
    10. More emotionally secure
    11. More inner courage
    12. Gain the ability to control personal future; create circumstances instead of following circumstances
    13. Learn to handle success; keeping your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground at the same time
    14. Will have positive feelings for and from others



    Confusion sometimes exists between having a positive self concept and in being conceited. Conceit is the excessive feeling of one’s own worth. Although self esteem is also feeling good about one’s worth, the key difference is excessive. Excessive refers to frequent open displays of worth. A conceited person is boastful and arrogant. This is unlike a person with a positive self concept. Positive people do not necessarily voice their own personal satisfaction in worth. The worth of these people naturally shines through to others. It is usually others who make public the worth of individuals with strong self concepts. By definition, there is a fine line between conceit and positive concept. However, when attaching qualities to individuals, the differences between the two are apparent.


    Individuals who wish to develop positive self concept must discover their strengths and limitations. You can sharpen your strengths and build upon them to reach a higher level of satisfaction. One way to visualize strengths is to formulate a list of attributes and choose the ones that describe you. Approach limitations in the same manner. You need to recognize your limitations before you can overcome them. After conducting a personal analysis, you will have an easier time strengthening your assets and overcoming your limitations. Examine and evaluate each attribute as to their importance regarding your self esteem. Ask yourself, "How does this enhance or hinder my self esteem?" From that point, you should be able to come up with a reasonable starting point in developing your self concept.


    There may be several ways to improve one’s self concept. A good place to start is to build on a person’s successes. Situations that are unlikely to promote failure are a necessary beginning. When there is success, emphasize it. The following is a list of suggestions to help develop a positive self concept:

    1. Begin positive self-talk; don’t put yourself down
    2. Do quality work; then compliment yourself to yourself
    3. Set goals
    4. Dress successfully or dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself
    5. Speak up and let others know your views
    6. Tackle the things you fear; don’t put them off or fuss over them
    7. Forgive yourself as you would others
    8. Continue to learn and be observant
    9. Change undesirable habits and develop productive habits
    10. Seize opportunities to learn new skills
    11. Stand up for others
    12. Maintain good physical condition
    13. Appreciate what you can do, rather than what you are unable to do
    14. Can’t compare yourself to others
    15. Count your blessings
    16. Go the extra mile to do your best
    17. Believe in yourself

By following these and other similar suggestions, you can begin to develop a positive self esteem. A good idea is to remember two areas that can influence your life:

Your personal thoughts

Are you positive or negative?

The people you "hang around"

Do they enhance your good qualities or your bad qualities?


Brown, J. (1986). "How to rekindle confidence and esteem". Successful Farming.

Burns, J.M. (1978). Leadership. Harper Colophon Books, Harper and Row Pub.: New York, N.Y.

Canfield, J., Wells, H.C. (1976). 100 Ways to Enhance self-concept in the Classroom. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Moczygemba, L. (1988). "Self Esteem - High self-regard is not a natural behavior, but one to be learned daily." Dayton Daily News and Journal Herald, p. 13-14.


A.H. Maslow - theorist in the early 1900s who developed the "hierarchy of needs", which is a guide to a person’s well being

Attributes - qualities that describe a person, in this case, they are positive

Conceit - excessive appreciation of one’s own worth

Dynamic - energetic and active

Endurance - ability to hold out or last

Fortitude - moral strength

Self Esteem - confidence and satisfaction in oneself



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Send questions about this website to Denise Davies at   For course information or questions not included in these pages contact Dr. James Knight. Copyright (c) 1998 Department of Agricultural Education, The University of Arizona.  Website version 1.2, last updated on Thursday, August 16, 2001.