The “I” Image (Part II)

Understanding “Who am I?” and “Why do I do what I do?”

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A meaningful area in the substructure of the self contains cognition, which according to Schleicher & McConnell (2015) has varying degrees of abstraction — from concrete impressions to generalizations. They are distinguished in one more indicator — publicly displayed and monitored or privately held individual cognitions.

This division can seem acceptable or not, but it shows that the content of image of itself is differentiated in a certain way. For this differentiation, it should be taken into account when tested the role of some or other cognitions and their place in the integral “I” image of personality.

Putting the relatively independent content areas in the “I” image is a prerequisite for one’s own study of him or herself. It is obvious that these areas are not independent of each other, and are interconnected at least due to the obvious fact that no particular competence or other personal capacity cannot take social position nor expect respect by others.

Numerous studies have provided abundant information of different aspects of the functional organization of the “I” image.

As an example, let’s take a look at an earlier research by Pedersen (1999), which establishes the connection between the central aspects of ego-identity and behaviors for their maintenance.

In another study it is shown that the role of jurisdiction is possessed over process verification of ego-identity (Cast, Burke, 2002), which is indicative of interaction and interconnection of two content areas in building an image for oneself.

Another model (Correll, Park, 2005) reveals the relationship between ego and identity, and personal values, showing that belonging to a group gives power, recognition of merit, reputation, and sense of acceptance.

What we should note next is the importance of emotional evaluations and emotionally colored correlation between various content elements. With confidence can be argued that emotions are active agents, which build consolidation of self-image. They give dynamics to its content, so defined schematic aspects may at various times include the same contents. This idea is best illustrated by competences.

When one is faced with solving a task he or she builds on his or her own competencies (e.g. ability to work with a computer and create softwares and programs). When the social environment places a human in need to identify and define him or herself, this individual is presented as a “software engineer” based on these skills. If this individual needs more recognition and respect, one will seek to create a new program with the use of a computer.

The participation of self-image in the regulation of behavior is multi-strange investigated problem area. We will not dwell on this question because this would be quite a comprehensive overview.

Another structure that is meaningful and functional can be determined as a separate system of personal motivation. Two of its functional features are the grounds for separation in an individual structure.

In the first place, motivation is the instigator and energy, which conditions individuals and drives them to unloading the accumulated mental tension. Without enough strong internal impulse no openly observable behavior arises.

In the second place, motivation directs and orients behaviors towards certain external objects and conditions.

Under its influence, certain aspects of the external environment are released like a figure and the remaining incoming information stays in the background.

Man is self-centered, but acts in an objective world where his or her needs and motives need to be met. One’s own intentions are focused in this direction and can modify external resources in accordance with domestic requirements. According to circumstances and research on individual development, everyone responds differently to the subjective desires and intentions.

For some people this is a source of favorable impact and opportunities, while for others it becomes almost impossible barrier.

Therefore, the accumulation of prevailing personal experiences gradually form one or another subjective picture about what are the most characteristic features of the world in which the “I” image seeks approval and satisfaction of self-centered desires.

This subjective picture is distorted and deflected in the direction of internal motivations and trends. It forms a special structure in the personality known as a presumed world. The content of this supposed world is composed of marginal general assumptions (pre-presented in the form of subjective interpretations) about the individualities of environment (physical and social) in which the person lives.

These assumptions are being examined as “localization of control,” “optimism,” “personal chance,” “just world,” “personal values and knowledge.”

As a social being, man is forced to comply with realities and requirements of the social environment. They determine formation of structure of normative standards. In content of this structure, the moral rules are most apparent, which follow the being. They regulate behaviors through moral emotions, and the latter is derived from responsibility for one’s own actions with identification with moral norms and with defining own consistent picture of oneself (Hardy, Carlo, 2005).

According to these authors, subjective factors to internalize moral norms most are significantly influenced by their association with ego-identification, thus achieving a more intense emotional support to maintain them.

Although, morality is not always involved in the regulation of behavior and may even be completely ignored for achievement of other egocentric goals (Wilson, 2003), which shift the normative regulation.

Finding excuses and out of the morality rationale for the selected individual behavior is indicative of that normal regulation, as brought in from the outside, is not a reliable guarantee for socially acceptable individual behavior. Therefore, the analysis of the relative place of morality in normal setting can reveal the actual role of this content in the organization and regulation of behavior especially taking into account the social context of their implementation.

Another meaningful area of discussion is the field of values. Generally, in the modern psychology, they are defined as desirable ideal conditions of existence and the ownership of material things. For individuals they are limited to numbers and are arranged in a certain structure.

The dominant values find expression in typical personality features and corresponding behaviors; this has been especially established for materialistic values.

The functional relationship between values is structurally derived from the “I” image. This is why the leading interpretation of one or more values suggest a particular way in defining oneself in the social environment system as a general.

Procedural and prescribed knowledge is also a part of the normative standards, which focus on the what, how, and in what order does something needs to be done. Procedural knowledge is social origin and like the moral norms imposed on individual way of behavior. It can be divided into the following components:

  • Procedural knowledge of rituals, celebrations, and important personal life events (marriage, birth, death, connection with ancestors, worship).
  • Prescriptions for individual behavior in social standard situations (communication, public appearance, visiting institutions). These regulations fall and stereotype, which are a kind of “ready-made” for action.
  • Technological instructions on the procedures and ways in which one must proceed to obtain a specific result.

Along with normative knowledge an individual has a social accumulated knowledge, which has been repeatedly verified and confirmed social experiences and therefore beyond the limits of being subjective.

For the individual there is the status of objective knowledge that he or she absorbed in the process of learning. These are basis of the cognitive structure of the individual; they are historically limited and never present the truth of the world in his or her so to speak ”immanent” state.

However, this knowledge provides effects on one’s own actions and with a degree of confidence to predict casual connections and relationships. Practically following and implying socially accumulated knowledge in fact from the material world of man.

A separated individual never masters all social cognition, but the absorption part in the modern world, which is necessary to be absorbed for professional purposes, for maintaining good health, for raising children, for working in complex technological conditions, and even for building one’s own worldview.

Along with the cognitive structure related to personal belief, here is the place to add the shared religions with all of their doctrines. This part of the cognitive structure also has a basis in the social environment, but unlike knowledge, which builds on experience, beliefs rely on social validation. As a social being one trusts the other and accepts his or her claim of truth.

Man has an immoral soul, individual with self-confidence adapt to different assertions. As he or she maintains beliefs as they are his or her own and personal, although there’s no explanation of what he or she owes this to. In the same way many people believe, without seeking other evidence, except reaffirmation of the majority or recognized “authorities.”

For the individual, faith is psychologically comfortable and that allows the miracle as a departure from the objective laws. It subjectively nourishes the inner hope for the fulfillment of cherished desires.

In addition to beliefs and religious convictions to cognitive structure, social attitudes, prejudices and social categorizations need to be recognized. The common in all of them is that there’s an evaluation component to the personal approach to cognitive submitted content.

There are five meaningful structures of the “I” image system that are interconnected through processes and interaction that incorporate them into a coherent whole, so that it can be shown in the inevitability of the relationships and present connections and mutual influences between different structures because their meaningful components are equally important for understanding integrity of the individual, as well as external influences.

In a broader plan, perspectives are outlined for better explanation and personal development. These five structures are: subjective world, cognitive structure, regulatory standards, and motivation, all of which form the “I” image.

Why some people like art, others sciences, others work without formal education and are completely satisfied and happy, and others strive towards the top of the world? What are some reasons people never stop growing and developing themselves throughout life, while others remain with only memories from their formal education?

Explanation based on the influence of social environment does not help here. The most important direction here is for an individual to form his or her own internal integration of his or her own personality and in the process, every person selectively sifts social impact in search of his or her own wholeness and identity.

The separation of content structures of personality does not exhaust the question to describe the problem areas that should be considered when exploring the steps to build a common structure.

Important questions have not been answered here — how do stable functional states arise and are consistently kept and predisposed to certain personal interaction with the outside world and the use of typical behaviors in a given social class or situation?

Ideas for response here come from clinical psychology. According to Haan (1977) between the individual and the external world there is maintained dialogue, which has a different degree of openness. Optimal level there is an open dialogue with the external environment, in which one is open to experiences. This is critical to one’s ideas and the individual is able to critically separate the idea from the emotional evaluation.

Protection dialogue with the external environment is limited and mostly comes from the egocentric point of view. Ideas are emotionally colored and biased. At the level of destruction is observed decline of dialogue with the external environment that consists of varying thoughts, and emotions freely dominating and creating behavior of strange or chaotic character.

This generalization is based on clinical observations of people with serious mental health problems. In behavioral adaptation in normal people this can also be monitored in resistant functional states.

One of them, the subjective welfare is described as the prevailing tendency to positive emotional experiences, satisfaction of the different arenas (work, family, communication) and overall but a sense of satisfaction with life (Pavot, Diener, 2004).

When evaluating the links between the “I” image, behaviors, and taking into account for situational influence between dispositions, the behavior analysis should continue by establishing how forming intentions for what behavior and what processes manage the transition from one to another behavior.

How does your environment connect you to your “I” image? What are your thoughts about the “I” image? How does your “I” image bring you closer to your self-worth?

Enjoyed reading? Please share. We are in this world to help one another. All of us grow faster when we support each other. I encourage others to add value to the world, so we can make compounding ripples of improvement for everyone. 

About The Author

Dr. Mila is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection, and the need for change – personally, socially, and professionally. 

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