Self-discovery is delayed for many of us because we have preconceived images of ourselves that cause us to act in certain ways. This self-image influences the choices we make about our physical appearance, our career choices, the people we associate with, and the environment in which we choose to live. All these choices, plus many others, work together to produce our self-concept. For instance, people who believe they are ugly and not smart will tend to dress sloppily, walk around with a slouched posture, and choose a job that doesn’t require much thinking or education. Their self-concept of being “no good” will not allow them to be open to better opportunities.
Your self-concept is largely a product of elements in your environment. Whatever you see, hear, smell, taste and feel in your environment moment by moment encourages you to make judgments about yourself. Your five senses are constantly tuned in to negative situations that produce a negative self-concept. I sometimes refer to them as the “five thieves.” I call them thieves because these negative perceptions rob you of your natural birthright of true self-knowledge, self-esteem, and natural joy. And then the process works in reverse: the negative judgments you inflict upon yourself as a result of your environment encourage you to choose or maintain a negative environment. In my teaching, I show how people can be unfairly limited by this connection between environment and self-concept, and how they must improve both simultaneously in order to create good changes in their lives.