Updated: Oct 30, 2021
“You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are!” This quote by William James holds a profound message: you alone are in control of the life you live.
Yes. I know that it’s not always as easy as it sounds, the truth is simple. Changing your mind will change your perception of yourself and your life. That's why this post is all about self-exploration. I want to find out if you know who you truly are. You may even come to realize that you might not be who you think you are.
The All-Powerful Mind
Your mind is the most powerful tool you have in your personal development arsenal. Your thoughts impact your mood, mental and physical health, and overall view of life. In fact, your mind is so powerful that you can make yourself physically ill with some of the depressive or anxious thoughts you think. When you are overcome with stress, all that anxiety can and will manifest itself into actual disease as a result of those infected thoughts. Digestive issues, high blood pressure, nausea, heart palpitations, and sweaty palms, are just a few of the symptoms you may experience.
According to William James, if you create a mental picture of yourself—good or bad—you’ll begin to embody it. That’s how powerful your thoughts are!
Your schema is the collection of cognitive beliefs and generalizations of ourselves. We collect them from the life experiences we go through and the messages we receive from other people. They become ingrained in our subconscious mind and shape who we are, and how we think and speak about ourselves. We develop these perceptions without even realizing it.
Nevertheless, they still have an immense influence on who and what we perceive ourselves to be. Therefore, whatever you believe is true, will inevitably become true for you.
Now, not all self-schemas are negative. Many of them can be good for your self-esteem and inspire you to achieve more, like:
Then, some self-schemas are incomplete, distorted, or inaccurate. As a result, they force us to view ourselves, our choices, and our entire world in a negative light. They may make you feel hopeless, even worthless at times. These thoughts and feelings will lead you to depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and self-doubt.
Some of these include:
I’m never going to be successful
I’m too big
I’m too skinny
No one loves me
See the Big Picture
If you’ve ever experienced any kind of trauma or the anxiety that comes with it, you know that a negative sense of self quickly follows. Then comes the low self-esteem and negative self-talk.
Allowing yourself to become vulnerable to feelings of defeat and despair is dangerous to your mental health and wellness.
The scariest part is that this distorted image of oneself doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone. It doesn’t target the weak or lonely, it happens to those who are resilient, courageous, or perseverant.
Always remember that you can be more than your self-schemas allow you to believe, even though it can be hard to see the bigger picture at times, especially when those times are dark and seemingly neverending.
There are always things you can do to support to yourself or someone you care about. They’re a good reminder of your self-worth and can help you see yourself as your true, complete, and authentic you.
Question the Accuracy of Self-Schemas
It’s easy to let past experiences and hurt determine our perception of who we are, aka our schemas. This is especially true when we have been barraged with the negative opinions and actions of others. The problems start when we convince ourselves that that’s who we truly are as individuals.
The only way to avoid this is by taking some time to reflect. Ask yourself, “How true is this belief? Does it reflect who I really am?”, and trust yourself to know the answers.
Remember that what others think, or feel is really none of your business and is always going to be inaccurate. No one knows who you are and what you’re capable of except you.Yes, people will be able to see those capabilities in you, but only you have the power to change the narrative of your being.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
Were you able to question the truth of certain aspects of yourself? So, you know now that other people’s perception of you isn’t important.
Once you recognize that, you will become aware of how unkind you have been to yourself. Don’t worry, though, we’re all guilty of one form of self-sabotage or another. But, we all can change it.
The simplest thing you can do is to focus on the most positive aspects of who you are and show up wearing them!
Start with some strength-based affirmations, such as:
I welcome change.
I don’t waste time feeling sorry for myself.
I’m grateful for all that I have.
Making mistakes doesn’t make me a failure.