Self-concept is whatever you perceive about yourself, be it negative or positive. When it comes to physical self-concept, people perceive what they see on the outside, by looking at the body. Since our body is the only tangible thing that makes up who we are, it’s understandable that we tend to examine it more, put it under a microscope, and ultimately even judge it. Your physical self is also what you put forth whenever you interact with other people. Consequently, a lot of individuals insist on their physical self-concept instead of paying attention to their minds. Today, we’re going to discuss the physical self and the concept of mind over matter.
Your Physical Self-Concept Definition
Your physical self-concept is what you know about your physical body. For instance, you know that you have blue eyes, blonde hair, and that you’re 5-foot tall. This is almost the same thing as knowing these details about other people, since they’re simply facts and not perceptions. However, when we’re talking about our own concept of self, we tend to reflect much more on what the information we have means. This is where self-esteem intervenes.
Self-Concept vs Self-Esteem
Self-esteem goes beyond what you know to be true about yourself. It entails the attitude you have towards what you know. For instance, some people hate the way they look, which provides them with low self-esteem. Other people are concerned about preserving the way they look at a certain moment in time. That’s mostly because they fear growing old and eventually dying. No matter the kind of perception you have of yourself, when we’re talking about self-esteem vs self-concept, it’s quite clear that the former influences the way we regard our mind and soul as well.
When it comes to the connection between your physical self (or your body), your mind, and your soul, you should know that there are many theories that attempt to explain it. We’ve explained above what we mean by ‘body’. But what do we think of when we say mind? Well, we think of consciousness, thoughts, and mental processes. The soul can have many definitions, according to the field through which you try to explain it. However, the general understanding of the soul is that of an immaterial part that all human beings have. Whether or not you think that part is immortal depends on your beliefs.
Some philosophers, such as Descartes, believe that the soul and the mind are almost the same thing. It was also Descartes who put forth the mind body theory. This theory states that the body and the mind are two completely different and separate entities. His theory remains controversial because of the seemingly unexplainable connection between the mind and the body. What we mean by that is the fact that our bodies move according to what our mind dictates. Not only that, but whenever we feel something physically, there’s a certain sensation in our mind as well.
Experts are split in what concerns the existence of a connection between the body and the mind (or the soul). While some of them still believe in the idea that the mind and body are completely different (dualist view), others think that there’s only one human essence, and this essence contains every aspect of human existence, from body, to mind and soul (monist view).
Mind Over Matter
The concept of mind over matter has been around since 1863. It typically relates to the idea that your mind can influence the material world, including your physical self. When talking about being mindful, a lot of people imagine meditation, yoga, and so on. The truth is that you don’t necessarily have to be a spiritual person in order to practice mindfulness.
In fact, mindfulness also relates to the way in which we experience our day-to-day lives. Sure, we can choose to live every day looking forward to the next, highly aware of the fact that our lives are going to come to a grinding halt at some point. But we can also choose to be aware of every single moment and experience, and try to be as present, receptive, and accepting as possible. In other words, we can choose to open our minds and hearts to new experiences. After all, experiences are what we’ll cherish most at the end of our life.
Especially in today’s society, when everyone is used to multitasking, to distractions, to doing things in a rush, it’s increasingly hard to be mindful. Whenever you try to pay attention to more than one thing at once, doesn’t this make you feel fragmented? If the answer is “yes”, then know that this is probably because you don’t have a sense of wholeness. You can only acquire this by being entirely present in any experience you go through.
The feeling of being incomplete is often what leads to an erroneous self-concept assessment. We’re constantly looking for outside things to make us feel complete. In fact, the only person who can do that is ourselves. Moreover, the tendency is to always look for material things, for things which are tangible and which you can relate to your physical self. Ultimately, most such efforts are in vain. Which is why the concept of mind over matter stresses the idea that you should focus less on your physical self, and more on your mind and soul.
A Few Closing Remarks
When it comes to death and dying, the reality of your physical self can be too harsh to handle at times. We’re all aware of the fact that our bodies develop, grow old, and ultimately stop functioning. Whether or not you believe that the mind or the soul are immortal, and that they’ll prevail even after your body fails you, is not as important in the concept of mind over matter. Since we’re all confronted with the inevitability of death, it’s up to us to decide what we choose to cultivate in this life. For most people, mindfulness is the answer, since what they’re truly left with once their body starts failing them are the experiences they’ve been through.