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Discover Your Core Identity: Boost Self-Perception & Self-Esteem

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Understanding your core identity is crucial for personal growth and well-being. In this article, we’ll explore how to uncover your true self, improve your self-perception, and boost your self-esteem using insights from psychology and neuroscience.

What is Core Identity?

Your core identity is the essence of who you are, encompassing your values, beliefs, and self-perception. It forms the foundation of your self-concept and influences how you interact with the world around you. According to Harvard Health, our self-concept is shaped by our experiences, beliefs, and interactions with others, forming the core of our identity.

The Role of Social Comparison in Shaping Core Identity

Social comparison plays a significant role in developing our core identity. By comparing ourselves to others, we:

  1. Evaluate our beliefs and behaviors
  2. Understand our place in the social world
  3. Develop a clearer sense of self

However, it’s essential to be aware that excessive social comparison can lead to a distorted self-perception. This comparison helps us to understand where we fit in the social world and how we measure up to those around us. It is through these interactions and comparisons that we develop a more transparent, more defined sense of self.

Self-Discrepancy Theory and Core Identity

Self-discrepancy theory suggests that our self-esteem is influenced by the gap between our actual self, ideal self, and ought self. Understanding these discrepancies can help us:

  • Identify areas for personal growth
  • Set realistic goals
  • Improve our overall self-concept

Self-esteem is closely tied to our self-concept and is based on the evaluations and judgments we make about various aspects of our identity. It is influenced by our self-efficacy, which assesses our abilities and skills. Self-efficacy plays a crucial role in approaching challenges and obstacles, affecting our confidence and belief in our ability to succeed.

A woman looking at her reflection in a mirror looking to find a core identity
Let’s get to work on you LOVING the person you see in the mirror.

Cognitive Biases and Self-Perception

Our self-perception can sometimes be skewed due to various factors such as cognitive biases, past experiences, and emotional states. For example, when we feel low or are in a negative emotional state, we may view ourselves more critically, leading to a distorted self-concept. Similarly, cognitive biases such as confirmation bias can lead us to focus on information that confirms our beliefs about ourselves while ignoring information that contradicts these beliefs. This can result in an inaccurate self-concept that does not accurately reflect our identity.

Neuroscience and Core Identity

Recent neuroscience research has provided valuable insights into how we perceive ourselves. Key findings include:

  1. The existence of self-enhancement bias
  2. The role of neuroplasticity in changing self-perception
  3. The benefits of mindfulness in improving self-awareness

Leveraging Neuroplasticity to Enhance Core Identity

Neuroplasticity allows us to reshape our core identity through intentional practice. Some effective strategies include:

  • Engaging in positive self-talk
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation
  • Developing new skills to boost self-efficacy

Neuroscience has shown that our self-perception can often be skewed, and we may not see ourselves accurately. This is known as the “self-enhancement bias,” where individuals tend to see themselves in a more positive light than they are. This bias can affect our relationships, work, and personal growth. One way neuroscience can help individuals see themselves more accurately is by using our brain’s natural malleability, known as neuroplasticity, to show us how our brains process information about ourselves and then make the necessary changes required.

By understanding these neural mechanisms and our unique underlying self-perception, we can develop interventions and strategies to improve self-awareness and reduce biases.Additionally, neuroscience research has shown that mindfulness and meditation can help improve self-awareness and reduce self-enhancement bias. Mindfulness practices help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, leading to a more accurate self-perception.

Socializing Forces and Self-Perception

Socializing forces such as family, culture, and media also play a significant role in shaping our self-perception. These forces provide us with feedback about who we are, which can be either positive or negative. This feedback can lead to developing positive or negative patterns that influence our self-perception and, subsequently, our communication. For example, positive feedback from family and friends can lead to a positive self-concept and high self-esteem, while negative feedback can have the opposite effect.


How we perceive ourselves manifests in how we present ourselves to others. Self-presentation is strategically concealing or revealing personal information to influence others’ perceptions. We engage in this process daily and for different reasons. Although people occasionally intentionally deceive others in self-presentation, we generally try to make a good impression while remaining authentic. Since self-presentation helps meet our instrumental, relational, and identity needs, we stand to lose quite a bit if we are caught intentionally misrepresenting ourselves.

As communicators, we sometimes engage in more subtle forms of inauthentic self-presentation. For example, a person may state or imply that they know more about a subject or situation than they do to seem wise or “in the loop.” During a speech, a speaker works on a polished and competent delivery to distract from a lack of substantive content. These cases of strategic self-presentation may never be found out, but communicators should still avoid them as they need to live up to the standards of ethical communication.

Core Identity and Effective Self-Presentation

Consciously and competently engaging in self-presentation can have benefits because we can provide others with a more positive and accurate picture of who we are. People who are skilled at impression management are typically more engaging and confident, which allows others to pick up on more cues from which to form impressions.Being a skilled self-presenter draws on many practices of competent communicators, including becoming a higher self-monitor.

When self-presentation and self-monitoring skills combine, communicators can simultaneously monitor their expressions, the reactions of others, and the situational and social context. Sometimes, people get help with their self-presentation. Although most people can’t afford or wouldn’t think of hiring an image consultant, some have generously donated their self-presentation expertise to help others. Many people who have been riding the tough job market for a year or more get discouraged and may consider giving up their job search.

Improving Self-Esteem Through Core Identity Work

By focusing on your core identity, you can significantly improve your self-esteem. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Identify your core values and beliefs
  2. Challenge negative self-perceptions
  3. Cultivate self-compassion
  4. Set and achieve meaningful goals
  5. Surround yourself with supportive people
A person standing in a shower with a hand pointing at a glass door searching for her core identity
We have an negative inherent bias against ourselves. All thanks to evolution!

Practical Steps to Enhance Core Identity

  1. Self-Reflection: Regularly take time to reflect on your values, beliefs, and experiences. Journaling can be a helpful tool for this process.
  2. Mindfulness Practices: Engage in mindfulness meditation to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This can help you develop a more accurate self-perception.
  3. Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. This can help boost your self-esteem and reinforce a positive self-concept.
  4. Seek Feedback: Ask for constructive feedback from trusted friends and family. This can provide valuable insights into how others perceive you and help you identify areas for improvement.
  5. Set Realistic Goals: Establish achievable goals that align with your core values. This can help you build self-efficacy and enhance your self-esteem.
  6. Develop New Skills: Continuously seek opportunities to learn and grow. Developing new skills can boost your confidence and contribute to a positive self-concept.

The Impact of Core Identity on Social Behavior

Your core identity significantly influences your social behavior. When you have a clear and positive self-concept, you are more likely to:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Build strong relationships
  • Navigate social situations with confidence

Conversely, a distorted or negative self-concept can lead to social anxiety, poor communication, and difficulty forming meaningful connections.

Society: A Giant Force Against a Positive Self-Perception

Socializing forces such as family, culture, and media provide feedback that shapes our self-perception, and self-presentation strategies allow us to influence others’ perceptions of us. Additionally, by understanding the concept of neuroplasticity and utilizing neuroscience research, we can actively work to improve ourselves and enhance our self-concept and self-esteem, ultimately influencing how we navigate our social environment.

By focusing on your core identity, you can significantly improve your self-esteem and overall well-being. Remember to engage in self-reflection, practice mindfulness, seek feedback, and continuously strive for personal growth. With these strategies, you can develop a positive self-concept and confidently navigate your social world.

Final Thoughts

Understanding and developing your core identity is a powerful tool for personal growth and improved self-esteem. By leveraging insights from psychology and neuroscience, you can create a more accurate self-perception and build a stronger, more confident version of yourself. Through social comparison and self-discrepancy, we develop a clearer understanding of who we are and how we fit into the social world.

#CoreIdentity #SelfEsteem #PersonalGrowth #Mindfulness #Neuroscience #SelfAwareness

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Dr. Sydney Ceruto

A Pioneer in Neuroscience-Based Coaching

As the founder of MindLAB Neuroscience, Dr. Sydney Ceruto has been a leading force in integrating neuroscience into coaching and counseling for over two decades. With three master's degrees in psychology and two PhDs in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, she is widely considered a top expert in her field.

Harnessing the power of neuroscience-based coaching, Dr. Ceruto's innovative approach focuses on neuroscience, neuroplasticity, and neural pathway rewiring to foster lasting positive change in mental health.

Dr. Ceruto holds esteemed memberships in the Forbes Executive Council, Positive Performance Alliance, Wharton Executive Education Program, the International Society of Female Professionals, and executive writing positions for Alternatives Watch, Brainz Magazine, and TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

Dr. Ceruto's accomplishments include:

  • The 2022 CREA Award.
  • A lead research position at NYU Steinhardt.
  • Volunteer work with Covenant House and the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI).

Her science-backed method of Neural Rewiring has successfully guided thousands of clients toward happier, more productive, and more resilient lives.