From the theoretical perspective of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the "self concept" would coincide with the most important element of the hierarchy, which is self-actualization.
Self-actualization is the understanding of yourself as a person, along with your strengths, limitations, proneness to change, weaknesses, and potential.
This does not happen automatically. In fact, in most cases it does not even happen at all! It is very hard to come to an objective opinion of yourself if you have full affective filters that come in between what you should feel about yourself and how you actually presently feel about yourself. Low self-esteem, social limitations, lack of nutrition, lack of safety, and a lack of direction would never help you become "actualized" with who you are as a potentially good or great person. In Maslow's words
"intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself...self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated"
These words go back to his theory: he claims that, in order for you to get to that top-level essence, you have to have supplied your body, mind, and soul with all the safety, nourishment, love, and satisfaction that their NEEDS (not wants) require.
Therefore to achieve a proper concept of the "self", according to Maslow, you should:
- take care of your body
- once your body is healthy and nourished, your psychological and emotional functions will most likely work properly. I.E., the effects of a malnourished body can extend to developmental processes in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is where emotional and affective intelligence develops.
- when your body and brain are healthy and in optimal condition, automatically your endocrine system will produce hormonal processes that will induce the motivation to initiate social contact, to explore new things, and to engage in activities that equally nourish your spirit (psychological acumen)
- after you reach a point where your body automatically leads you to do things that are cognitively and developmentally motivating for you, as well as challenging and exciting, you begin to realize your role in this world, and what your life can actually look like.
In not so many words, think about this chain of events.
You (a healthy teenager or young adult), begin to experience curiosity towards things such as movies, music, drama, Math, Science, and many other things. As a healthy and developing individual, your body and brain (if they are well-taken care of) will entice you to experiment with those activities. As you achieve, fail, try again, produce, or reject those exposures, you begin to form an idea of what you like. From there, you get a perspective of who you may become, or who you may already be. That, along with social feedback, constitutes the "self-concept".
Self-concept is the understanding or awareness that and individual has of them self, it is an internal opinion that is formed as a result of a collection of our personal experiences. The development of self-concept and self-awareness at the basic level starts at a very early age; however there are many aspects that go beyond this rudimentary level.
A person’s self-concept will be determined by the sum total of their experiences (which are in constant flux). Self-concept also has many categories; it could involve interpersonal relationships, your work or opinions on a range of issues. Let us look at an example of a highly competent engineer; their concept of self would be one of self-confidence and self-regard. This may have developed as a result of the engineer being highly knowledgeable in his field and being held in regard by his peers (thus helping him develop a positive ego).