Understanding Self Research Proposal

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¶ … Self

Understanding myself

We are all unique and no two humans have exactly identical personalities.

I have learned that, above all, we have different pre-conceived notions of how things are and how they should be. We have different values, different expectations and different meanings that we attach to our experiences, event and circumstances we are into. We live in a highly subjective world, and the world as you know it may be the exact opposite of the world as I see it. This is because reality can be so many-faceted, broad, all-encompassing and complex that it can never be fully understood.

As (Wood, p. 31) had pointed out, the external world and our experiences are meaningless by themselves; the meanings come from us. The world is laid before us like a tabula rasa, or blank slate. On its clear pages, we write our own accounts, our own meanings and our own expectations and disappointments based on our collective experiences and shared meanings.

This active, cognitive process of selecting, organizing and interpreting people, objects, events, situations and activities is called perception. The meanings of these people, objects, events, situations and activities are based on which aspects of it we attend to and how we organize and interpret them (Wood, p. 32).

But even though the world is unfolding every bit of the moment and so many things are happening around me all at once, I do not take everything in altogether. Only a select few catches my attention and have an impact on me. This is probably because perception is largely selective; we only take in, for example, events that we find relevant, immediate and intense. For instance, I always try to find the lighter side through even the most challenging situations or I choose not to focus on the problem. We may lose our way through a spontaneous roadtrip with my friends, and everyone may start getting irate, but I manage to keep my cool and comfort them. "At least, we discovered a nice winding road with a sumptuous view on it," that's what I most probably will tell them. Focusing on the good side instead of lingering on the mishaps sees me through bad times. This is the essence of selectivity and the significant difference it does to our disposition.

By understanding this, I have also come to appreciate that what is important to me may be entirely different from those valued by other people. A college education that I would strive hard for may be the last thing on some of my peers' minds, for example. Or one of my classmates who have been talking and obsessing about an overpriced technology gadget for the past few weeks may strike me as odd, if not irritating.

The subjectivity of reality and our different ways of reading through it have also taught me that we each carry our burdens and our joys in our own unique ways. So, whenever I am pitted into a disappointing or heartbreaking situation, others may not be on the same boat. Hence, much-needed empathy from those who matter to me could not be expected from all of them, in much the same way that what pleases me and the things that I value could probably mean nothing to other people.

Similarly, I have come to understand that my explanation of how things happen and why people act the way they do are mainly based on my past experiences and interactions with other people. This is called attribution, our subjective ways of assigning and attaching meanings to the world as we see it. For example, someone who may be a bully in class may be regarded as brute and unforgiving by my classmates, but I may see him as a kid who needed his parents' love and attention because I have seen the same problem in one of my cousins.

Another factor that greatly influences how we view the world and attach meanings to day-to-day nuisances could also be gender. I know that we conform to certain standards of how men and women are supposed to act and behave, and often, these expectations go the opposite direction.

A understand that just like any other men, guys my age would be more interested with the outdoors and cars and that they don't wear their hearts on their sleeves. And so it is with women - girls my age would prefer reading through romance novels, sleeping over their girl friends' place and malling with their girl friends than listening to guys their age talk about cars and camping. A word said by a woman may have different meaning when said by a man. They also behave differently in times of stress - men tend to get more increasingly focused and withdrawn while women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved. A woman feels better by talking about the problem, but a guy prefers solving it without such lengthy discussions (Gray, 2000).

These may be mere stereotypes, but stereotypes or not, we have come to define hard, visible lines on where behavior acceptable to a man (or a woman, as the case may be) is acceptable and when it is not. Understanding these gender stereotypes makes age-old gender-specific-roles easier to accept and conform to. It thus, gives me another higher vantage point from which I could interpret things at.

In as much as I know that I have peers entirely different from one another, I am also conscious that we have another common ground (other than gender) where our expectations, meaning and ideas meet - because of our culture. Wood defines culture as a set of "beliefs, values, understandings, practices and ways of interpreting experience that are shared by a number of people." Wood further stressed that these assumptions may be taken-for-granted, but they do form the pattern of our lives and guide how we perceive things, think, feel and act (Wood, p. 40). Hence, I tend to assign meanings and set standards based on the way of life I have come to know. Culture limits and puts into context my interpretation of different occurrences and human behavior. I naturally identify with a group of people whose way of life is a lot more similar to mine and I may tend to question or be amused at those practices and traditions that digress from my own group's.

All these values and meanings that I get from interaction with a diverse group of people and through making sense of everyday occurrences have significantly contributed to who I am today.

I would not have been the person I have become if it were not for the people I continuously encounter, interact and live with. This even goes back to my childhood years; as George Herbert Mead, the proponent of Symbolic Interactionism, had put it: "humans can be taught into humanity." Because we see ourselves through the eyes of the others first, these messages are extremely important in forming the foundations of our self-concept (Wood, 1997: p. 11). We first have our first idea of respect, love, attention and care based on the intensity and quality of what was given to us and based on how people around us communicate these to us. During these formative years, our first measures of our own value are largely based on how we are valued by people around us.

It is because I have been well taken care of, loved and valued that I have gentler and more humane worldviews. I have broader horizons because of the diverse people I've come in close contact with. I have a mind that's open to understand and accept those whose ideas are different than mine, and I expect the same from them. I tend to see more the good side in people than their negative one because, overall, I've seen the innate goodness of the people I am surrounded with.

But I know there are still rooms for improvement. For one, I know I should work harder on getting out of my way to reach out to people who are the exact opposite of me, if personality may indeed be plotted along a continuum. I have noted that we tend to get intimidated or act indifferently to those whose behaviors and values do not fall within our standards, but I know that I should cease putting them in a boxed set of expectations. For all we know, they could be thinking differently of me too; different from how I wanted them to see me. We have different cultures, different upbringing, differing sets of morals that we adhere to, and we may all think ours is the highest than what the rest conform, adhere and subscribe to. What a chaos it would bring if we would all insists on that.

I have also noted that to really understand a person, you have to be on his or shoes. You may be fuming irate at someone, but pausing to consider how you would act if you were in his… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Understanding Self.  (2008, December 1).  Retrieved December 15, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/understanding-self/470311

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