How Your Self-Concept Affects Your Panic

I received an email today from a 16 year old girl asking for help. She is having problems with her self-esteem. Sound familiar?

It seems to me that most of us with Panic and Anxiety disorders have self-image and self-esteem issues. Learning to accept ourselves and honor ourselves is key to dealing with Panic Disorder, in my opinion. My panic has subsided greatly since I changed my self-image.

What is self-image? There are many key issues wrapped up in your self-image. Let me offer some definitions for your consideration.

Self-Concept: This is an individual’s evaluation of himself or herself – a self-appraisal.

Self-Image: This is the picture that you have of yourself, the sort of person you believe you are. How would you describe yourself to someone?

Your self-image is created by your peers, your parents, those around you. Whether feedback is positive or negative, this is how you tend to view yourself.

Self-Esteem: This is how you feel about yourself. You may have a very postive self-image and very low self-esteem.

How do you go about improving your Self-Concept?

~ Become aware of yourself.

~ Establish a positive attitude towards yourself and others.

~ Acknowledge all of your feelings.

~ Focus on yourself.

~ Strive to believe that you, and others, are worthy of being liked and accepted.

~ Develop the belief that you, and others, are worthy of respect.

~ Stay away from those people who are highly critical of you.

~ Surround yourself with people who support you.

Remember, the people around you expect you to behave in a certain way. As your self-concept improves, these people may need some time to get used to the ‘new’ you!

Try these exercises to speed you on your way to self-actualization, to being all that you can be, to loving, honoring and respecting yourself!!

(The Communication Handbook, 1986, p. 274, Joseph DeVito)

  1. Answer the question “Who am I?” by writing 10 to 20 times “I am…” Complete the sentence with what comes to mind first.
  2. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns: “Stengths” and “Weaknesses.” Fill the two columns as quickly as possible with strengths and weaknesses you see in yourself.
  3. Take another sheet of paper and, under the heading “Self-Improvement Goals,” complete the statement “I want to improve my…” as many times as you can in 5 minutes.

These exercises are the beginning of a dialogue with and about yourself, but remember that you change, so update the exercise occasionally.