C Tann-Starr's Outside Blog


Seize the Day: Achieving Goals through Re-invention of Your Self-Concept


Sara was kind enough to make this available for a re-blog. Enjoy! :-)


Hermosa BeachThe Chicken or the Egg? Which comes first?

Self-concept (or self-schema) is far more important than given credit for. It is often believed that what we accomplish determines how we feel about ourselves, but it is quite possible the opposite is true.

Clinical Study Findings:

In an 8-week clinical intervention study with 29 cocaine and opioid-dependent clients, Avants, Beitel, and Margolin (2005) found a correlation between a shift in self-schema and drug use and other HIV risk behaviors. The self-schema (the specific beliefs about the self) of addicted individuals was found to be extremely negative, consisting of words such as "selfish, aggressive, evil, impulsive, irresponsible, manipulative and unmerciful". When activated, one's self-schema triggers an automatized repertoire of behaviors, actions, plans, and scripts.

As addicted individuals are more likely to view themselves as "bad" people, the addict self-schema (the way the individual views themselves in light of their addiction) maintains addiction behavior. Assisting addicted individuals in substituting a negative self-schema for a positive self schema provides the foundation for meaningful change and is correlated with change in drug use and HIV risk behaviors.

Real Life Application:

If you have resolutions pining on your doorstep or patterns and behaviors you wish you could alter but have been unable to do so, consider the relationship between your perception of the goal and your self-concept. What words do you use to describe yourself in relation to the as-of-yet not accomplished the goal?

Viewing yourself negatively for not yet achieving the goal maintains the likelihood that you will continue the current pattern. It's not enough to attempt to send the negative self-schema to oblivion; its void must be filled with something, or the negative self-schema will re-emerge. Exchange the negative self-schema for a postive self-schema. To do this:

  • Become aware of your self-talk.    Example of negative self talk: "If I take on ___ goal, I may fail, and it says something negative about me that I haven't accomplished it / I may fail."
  • Practice positive self-talk with yourself and rephrase. Positive self-talk isn't largess; it's acknowledging your humanness. Break your goal into smaller steps if necessary.    Positive self talk: "I'd like to reach this goal, and I recognize that any challenge to do so doesn't reflect negatively on me. Instead, it reflects positively that I am undertaking it, and little by little, step after step, I will get there".     
  • Act towards your objective.
  • Reward yourself upon reaching your objective through positive self-affirmation. Part of developing a positive self-schema acknowledges that reaching a goal is not a "should", but something worthy of feeling good about.


Avants, S. Kelly, Beitel, M., and Margolin, A. (2005). Making the shift from 'addict self' to 'spiritual self':Results from a Stage I study of Spiritual Self-Schema (3-S) therapy for the treatment of addiction and HIV risk behavior. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 8(3), 167-177.

Text and Real Life Application authored by Sara Washburn, Picture by Sara Washburn

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Comment balloon 9 commentsC Tann-Starr • November 24 2009 11:05PM


Carolyn, This is so true about our self-concept.  This is why one should bring up ones child in the way the child should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.  I read that somewhere ;o) and I know it has held true in my own life.

Posted by Shirley Parks, Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate (Sands Realty 210-414-0966) almost 11 years ago

I wonder how many people will have the courage to read all of this, or better yet, take the next step toward acceptance of the concept. I KNOW I'm guilty of this... unforunately, a psychologist made me aware of this a few years ago =/  To make matters worse, I have to admit that I'm still in this spiral. It takes a LOT of positive self-reinforcement to counteract the negative patterns that have taken a lifetime to build. I'm going to share a (don't know how you believe, but it is what it is) prophetic poem I wrote last week. I'll be sharing it within the next hour =)

Posted by Lisa Hill, Daytona Beach Real Estate (Florida Property Experts) almost 11 years ago

God is the author of the Prophetic, so by all means Lisa, share, share, share. :-)

Shirley, what Sara said is making me re-write a post I took five days to write only to delete. I should have posted it from the beginning. Now I have to re-write it from stratch and freak you guys out (LOL). ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Very true, Belief, Discipline, Love, Positive Attitudes and those who believe in you are all very important.

Posted by Diane Daley (Caron's Gateway Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Diane, I agree. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Carolyn, We all probably have changes we would like to make in our lives.  I am in the process of beginning a few changes in my life.  This is a very good post to read about making changes, especially as we are approaching those days of making New Year's resolutions.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Carolyn~

Posted by Shirley Parks, Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate (Sands Realty 210-414-0966) almost 11 years ago

Shirley, wishing you the very best in all things. Enjoy your family and the holiday. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for a good thought provoking post. Wish you and your family happy holidays.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Thank you, Gita. Sara did an amazing job. Wishing you the very best and hoping you enjoy your holiday as well.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

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