We all have a vision about ourselves that identifies who we are: student, daughter/son, morally straight, intelligent, etc. The self-affirmation theory says that we are motivated to maintain this positive self-identity even when somebody or something threatens our belief. Have you ever noticed when somebody else tells you ‘who you are’ that does not align with your belief, we immediately become defensive trying to rationalize the reason we are who we say we are — and by default, not who they say we are?
Self-affirmation is a powerful way that our brain attempts to protect our identity, cope with stress/threats and can (potentially) improve grades and your health!
The 4 Principles of Self-Affirmation Theory
- Protect Self-Integrity – Self-affirmation theory suggests our concept of ourselves is that of a good, moral person who acts accordingly. People will make efforts and take action in an effort to maintain this positive image.
- We become defensive to protect sense of self – If something or somebody threatens our self-integrity, people become defensive in an attempt to reduce the threat to their self-identity. This can appear in the form of denial or avoidance.
- Self-integrity can change – People have multiple self-concepts based on various roles they play in the community (ie: parent, child, employee). This allows people to highlight their strengths in various roles, especially if another role’s beliefs are being threatened.
- Perceived threats are reduced by action – While a person’s self-identity is being threatened, they will find ways to affirm their beliefs and lessen the threat. These actions help affirm who the person is and reminds them of their values.
If you need help with your self-identity, Your Success Coach can help! Schedule a complimentary appointment today.