The process of developing an identity begins with the infant’s discovery of self and continues throughout life. As we grow, self-awareness grows and changes. Initially we describe ourselves in terms of observable characteristics and behavior, including physical attributes, preferences, and competencies. Slowly we grow to explore our skills, abilities, and attitudes and incorporate the information into our view of self.
Many related terms have been used by developmental, clinical, and personality psychologists to describe individuals’ understanding and evaluation of themselves. Self-concept, self-competence, self-worth, and self-esteem are the psychological constructs most typically employed. The journey to understanding self begins with answering some basic questions like Who am I? What am I doing? Why do I think the way I do? and so on. The answers to these questions involve more than just the physical understandings of our mind and body. It also involves the understanding of our heritage and the heritage of the human race. Our opinions and value of our self are critically important in enabling higher understanding. In this way, we will take care to understand the people and institutions that profoundly influence our sense of our selves.
An important aspect in the historical quest of human beings to know themselves has been to understand the conflict of inner voices- good and bad, feelings of spiritual love and feelings of narrow minded selfishness, of feelings of compassion and of desired isolation. Finally, it is through the answers and understandings of self-knowledge, self-worth and balance that our journey takes us to the goal of complete inner and outer harmony of being.