Pillars of Self-Concept

When I first thought about this week’s theme, I struggled, going back and forth between self-esteem and self-efficacy. I even broke the two into two different weeks of focus because one is really about how you regard yourself in terms of lovability and respect (self-esteem) whereas the other has more to do with your ability to reach accomplish something. Although both are connected, the concepts do differ in terms of exploring it as a tenet of transformation. As a person who places a high emphasis on language and communication, understanding concepts as it relates to the minutia of words is important. Part of this exploration is to dig a little deeper into the life variables that can help reframe the experiences we are going through in order to make a change.

If you are looking to lose weight, your self-efficacy will likely increase as you accomplish small goals. Don’t believe you can run? Starting a program like couch to 5k could get you up and on the road. During this time period, as you increase your lung capacity and your ability to run further and sustain longer distances without stopping, you increase your self-efficacy.

Self-esteem would boil more down to how you feel about yourself when you look into the mirror and have a positive outlook. This is not to say that self-esteem relies on the physical, and your self-esteem can be dramatically increased by the increase of your self-efficacy.

Because these concepts are so interrelated, I zoomed out a bit, and thought more about “self-worth” in general, which reminded me of something I learned a long time ago, “The Pillars of Self-Concept.” This description embodies self-esteem and self-efficacy as it relates to how one views themselves. In doing some research on the topic, I found an article that lays out the foundations is a clear and concise manner that I thought would be helpful to review.

I found this article helpful because the dictionary definition (which is part of what I am basing the introduction to each week’s theme on), doesn’t give the full pictures about the differences between both and would lead someone to believe the are the same thing.

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D


Self-Concept: The factual account of how you perceive yourself.

Self-Esteem: The feeling of respect and value we hold for ourselves.

Self-Efficacy: The regard for one’s competence and capability to accomplish a task.: The regard for one’s competence and capability to accomplish a task.

Characteristics of low self-esteem

  • Feelings of unhappiness
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feelings of inferiority or superiority
  • Impatience or irritation with self or others
  • Externally oriented goals
  • Negativity

Characteristics of high self-esteem

  • Responsibility
  • Goal commitment
  • Genuineness
  • Forgiving
  • Internal values
  • Positivity
  • Self-improvement

Additionally, Nathaniel Braden, known as the father of self-esteem describes the following key breakdowns of self-esteem.

6 Pillars of Self-Esteem [Notes by Brian Johnson]

“Apart from disturbance whose roots are biological, I cannot think of a single psychological problem—from anxiety and depression, to underachievement at school or at work, to fear of intimacy, happiness, or success, to alcohol or drug abuse, to spouse battering or child molestation, to co-dependency and sexual disorders, to passivity and chronic aimlessness, to suicide and crimes of violence—that is not traceable, at least in part, to the problem of deficient self-esteem. Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves.” ~ Nathaniel Branden from The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

  1. The Practice of Living Consciously – The concept that we all have more knowledge and potential than we are aware of, and actively recruiting these parts of our being allow us to live more closely to ourselves.
  2. The Practice of Self-Acceptance – To reach a heightened state of esteem, we must face the worst parts of us, the parts we have disowned. Awareness, consciousness, and integration are required.
  3. The Practice of Self-Responsibility – A true ability to respond to life’s challenges, as a participant rather than a victim.
  4. The Practice of Self-Assertiveness – To speak from a place of conviction (real talk) and be the author of your own story.
  5. The Practice of Living Purposefully – The usage of our power to attain our goals through our inspiration (vs. “what we should do”)
    1. Knowing the difference between what you want to do vs. what you should do (what are you compelled towards?)
  6. The Practice of Personal Integrity – The culmination of your ideals, convictions, standards, and beliefs: behavior. When our ideals and our practice match up.

Characteristics of low self-efficacy

  • Fear of risks
  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Feelings of failure
  • Impression management

Characteristics of high self-efficacy

  • Self-confidence
  • Accurate self-evaluation
  • Willingness to take risks
  • Sense of accomplishment

How to improve low self-esteem

  • Eliminate negative self-talk
  • Recognize strengths
  • Recognize self-worth
  • Accept mistakes
  • Accept rejection

How to improve low self-efficacy

  • Develop skill set.
  • Modeling.
  • Focus on specifics.
  • Reinforcement.


  • THE REACTION OF OTHERS. If people admire us, flatter us, seek out our company, listen attentively and agree with us we tend to develop a positive self-image. If they avoid us, neglect us, tell us things about ourselves that we don’t want to hear we develop a negative self-image.
  • COMPARISON WITH OTHERS. If the people we compare ourselves with (our reference group) appear to be more successful, happier, richer, better looking than ourselves we tend to develop a negative self-image, but if they are less successful than us our image will be positive.
  • SOCIAL ROLES. Some social roles carry prestige e.g. doctor, airline pilot, TV. presenter, premiership footballer and this promotes self-esteem. Other roles carry stigma. E.g. prisoner, mental hospital patient, refuse collector or unemployed person.
  • IDENTIFICATION. Roles aren’t just “out there.” They also become part of our personality i.e. we identity with the positions we occupy, the roles we play and the groups we belong to.”

Furthermore, the concept of our ideal self is important to look at as it relates to transformation. Often times, we tend to belittle ourselves (which gets in the way of accomplishing our goals and staying on a healthy path), when who we are, currently, does not match who we wish to be.


McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self Concept. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/self-concept.html

In this explanation of self-esteem, we become our best, actualized-selves, when we reach a state of congruence. This is not a perfect science, and depending on what is going on in your life, may shift dramatically. Traumatic events can spin our self-image out of whack, even when the events may not seemingly relate to your self-worth. The study attaches one version of evaluating your congruence, called the Q-Sort Method. I’ll be testing out the Q-Sort method and giving my opinion in Friday’s video!

One of the important discussions in the article explains that one can have low self-esteem and high self- efficacy. Although these concepts are related, they are not mutually exclusive. I believe one of the things that aided in my weight loss was my previous confidence that I could overcome certain hurdles in my life. Developing self-efficacy in one area of your life (for me, education was a big one), can carry over. My self-esteem was certainly not on the same plane as my self-efficacy, and I think that is true, even to this day. I know I am run a marathon, but, some days, I still struggle with the person I see in the mirror.

It can difficult to evaluate where you are when it comes to self-concept. There are a variety of metrics and tools that psychologists can use to get a general read on how you may feel about yourself. I find it helpful to tow the worlds between research and “day to day”/anecdote because there is merit and insight in both of these places. It is important to be critical of information that comes at us (especially in a world where “fake news” is a hot topic), so always engage with both an open-mind and a healthy dose of questions.

One tool that has been used to evaluate self-esteem is The Harrill Self-Esteem Inventory, which I will also be featuring in this week’s video.

PHEW! That’s a lot of information, and if you want an in-depth explanation of any of the above, the linked article has a great breakdown of what all of these mean.Tune in on Friday for this week’s video for an in-depth discussion on how self-concept relates to fitness, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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