The Three Stages of Self Perception

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The Three Stages of Self Perception

The Three Stages of Self Perception
  1. No me, dependence
  2. Only me, conflict
  3. See me, harmony

When Eliza was 5 years old, I took her to visit the University of Western Australia. A large white wall was solemnly carved with the words “Know thyself”. She asked me what it meant, and I told her that it was a Greek proverb, meaning to know yourself.

I think she was really lucky to be able to naturally enter the consciousness of self-development at such an early age, and in this solemn yet unintentional way.

The Three Stages of Self PerceptionWhen human beings just born, they do not have much spiritual self-awareness. The spirit of a baby rely on surrounding environment very much. If environment is safe and pleasant, baby will be safe and pleasant. If environment is noisy and conflicting, it can also cause serious mental harm to baby.

This life stage, I call it the NO ME stage, the main behavioral characteristic of a person is dependence.

Although studies have shown that self-awareness begins to develop in babies around the age of 1 (referring to the Beulah Amsterdam, dot red experiment), the peak of self-awareness arrive at adolescence period. As youngs grow, they discover more and more about themselves. During childhood and adolescence, they accumulate a lot of knowledge and improve their abilities. At the same time, the lack of self reflection ability leads to a high degree of self obsession during this period. The consequence is that adolescents are very prone to make conflicts with their surrounding environment and people.The Three Stages of Self Perception

This life stage, I call it the ONLY ME stage, when the main behavioral characteristic of a person is conflict.

The contradictions that people encounter along the way in the process of developing themselves are actually very valuable. Because these are all explorations that arise from one’s own interaction with the environment, the appropriate intensity of contradictions enables a person to make timely adjustments to the environment, gradually moving towards the third stage, SEE ME. At this stage, people are gradually able to establish harmonious relationships with themselves and their environment, thereby achieving lasting and profound happiness.

The so-called “SEE ME” actually has a more colloquial expression, which is being, knowing, doing, being yourself, knowing the world, doing for others. It’s not like in the ONLY ME stage where one value self so much, but it’s also not like in the NO ME stage where you can’t see yourself. When thinking and doing things, one can not only see their own needs, but also the needs of world and the needs of others. In this way, the decisions made can receive more support and with stronger vitality.The Three Stages of Self Perception

But not everyone will naturally get through all the three stages.

Some people in the early stages of their lives may be in a state of selflessness due to insufficient support, with low sense of self affirmation and self-worth, making it difficult for them to unleash their potential, be easily manipulated and exploited, and have difficulty obtaining happiness.

Some people, due to not having enough conflicting experiences during their self-development in childhood and adolescence, go through the growth journey too smoothly, resulting in a too strong self-awareness or inability to interact with others, and fail to enter the stage of SEE ME, which can easily lead to conflicts with those around them and make them hardly realize that they have problems.

So, in order to enter the stage of harmonious and happy SEE ME, the first step is to affirm yourself, understand your own value, and be able to positively see the conflict between yourself and the surrounding environment, discover one’s own shortcomings, the strengths of others, and the vastness of real world in the conflict. Only then can one appropriately react in various situations of life.

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Read more:

Self Perception Theory

What Is Self-Concept?

Self-Concept In Psychology: Definition & Examples


The Three Stages of Self Perception

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