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Sociology. Identity and Self-Reflection

Identity in the social sense can be described as the human craving to have a sense of belonging within one’s self, a sense of belonging to the people and the community around us, to the things happening around us, and to influence these things.

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Self-reflection on the other hand is a process where an individual or individuals stop and reflect on what they have done or been through in their lives to look for a solution to the many questions one may have about the self. There are many ways to look at it; one way is from the satisfaction we gain, the creation of a culture which is mainly thought to be associated with some diverse thoughts that together form a society of distinct opinions. Just like the readings by Chan, Staples, and Heyward who all identify themselves as very unique people with different cultural backgrounds and insightful perspectives. However, they do fit themselves in some kind of boxes created by society. This is where the idea of the melting pot comes in. this idea shows that everyone is losing his/her identity gradually when society generates several boxes or categories. But in the face of this, do we have individual characters; are we able to take time off communal matters to attend to ourselves, to meet the needs of the innate being? This paper seeks to answer that question and to find out whether these people exist in these societies. It will also seek to find out if their perceptions of their beings affect their activities?

Proper self-reflection leads to self-efficacy. This is people’s internal belief about their abilities to produce quality levels of output that influence events that can change their lives. It opens up human beings to their inner beings, leading them to understand much about their fundamental nature and purpose in life. The principles surrounding self-efficacy are highly associated with beliefs and thoughts, people’s feelings, how they motivate themselves and their behaviors. The result is a person with a strong sense of well being, one that understands people and their capabilities. These people approach difficult situations as challenges to be overcome instead of fear that are to be scared off. They also set very high goals for themselves in life and commit their lives towards achieving the goals. Like in Chan’s essay about how she has been ill-treated by people who think disabilities would make hopeless both physically and mentally. According to Chan, people are always limited by their definitions of self. One could reverse the marker that has been put on them based upon their physical condition. Acting in the way one believed, is more likely to have a higher chance letting others perceiving the innate beauty of one (Chan, 68).

Chan also expounds on the issue of self by examining the nature of the personality of human beings. In defining the ‘self’ Chan explores the following aspects; “race, gender, economic class social status, religion, nationality, and sexuality. She states that these are some of the most significant ways by which we identify ourselves in the twenty-first century (Chan, 62). Chan takes our attention to not only these but also to the physical abilities and disabilities in individuals. Chan also includes the societal aspect by examining the stereotyping power. By this, she brings forth the questions that follow; “how do the views of others define us as individuals? How we allow those definitions to limit the boundaries of our ambitions and to circumscribe our relationships with fellow human-beings? And finally, how can we transgress and transcend these limits?” (Chan, 62)

This point of view in life encourages such deep interest making them fully engrossed in their daily activities. They are not discouraged when they are facing failure, instead they relate to it as a chance to stop and rediscover more to see what went wrong and where the mishaps occurred. They personally attribute failure to lack of preparedness and shortage of the required skills which are all achievable by harder practices. They also have this inner belief that they can exercise control over unfortunate circumstances.

Self efficacy in itself is, however, a process and is motivated by several factors, both individual and collective. The goals to be achieved by an individual are influenced by the internal belief in ones capabilities. The stronger the awareness, the higher the challenge one sets up. For these people the challenges become their goals in life. As if Chan was trying to prove herself to her family, doctors, colleagues, etc. She was basically doing everything she could to change her life, and more importantly, change the way others perceived her basing upon her unfortunate physical condition.

Motivational processes entail the inner ability of individuals to direct their behaviors and spur their spirits to persist in their endeavors until they attain the set goals. Self influence plays a greater part in this action. Self satisfaction is attained through accomplishment of the set goals. Like in Chan’s case her unfortunate state acted as a motivation in the achieving of greater goals. Unfairness reminds a person to intensify his/her output and quality. Beliefs of self efficacy also determine the degree of ambition in people, how much of their efforts would be required, their degree of persistence when challenge incurs, and their abilities to adjust themselves when they are facing failure or to adapt certain quick changes. When facing extreme hardships, people who have doubts about their abilities give up quickly. However, people who have strong belief in mind are capable of turning their ambitions to overcome challenges. This determination leads to one accomplishing the goal and tasks set upon them. Referring this back to the Staples’s essay, being over supervised and avoided on purpose in the public is something he feels very insulting.

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The self and self reflection is also considered by the magnitude of our identity in self definition and to some extend the magnitude of this that is socially build. As shown by Staples (67), we should try to define the self through other people’s eyes and on the contrary which magnitude we anticipate them to be conventional to our anticipations of them. Staples, notably shows how people view the self of others by merely viewing their outer personality. He shows that the society can decide to label you with a tag which is not yourself. This he explains is brought about by the way we carry ourselves.

Affective process, engages peoples’ strong mindset and their abilities facing extreme pressure and anxiety. People who believe they can handle stress do not get easily distracted by disturbing thoughts, but only those with weaker mindsets. Their thoughts mostly based on their shortages, and how they improve it. Mainly, they find out why they are suffering from the hardship, and what is necessary to overcome the toughness. The stronger the feeling of self efficacy, the more effective people become in dealing with their goals and ambitions in life. As Heyward points out in her essay, the boxes created by ourselves within the society have definitely slowed down the pace of our growth on the way to human civilization. Apparently she knows what she wants and what she needs to leading her through this frustration. We are participating in a society that has been divided into different boxes based upon religions, sexuality, and numerous other labels. “We live with contradictions and partial truths” (Heyward, 144). By coming out of the boxes, our civilization is achievable, and justice is also indeed.

Beliefs of personal efficacy influence the type of activities people engage in. They shape the path of one’s life through their influence on which activities one may choose to participate in (Bandura, 53). This narrows it down to the selection process, the choice of what to do or what not to do. It is influenced by factors such as the environment and the people around us. Most importantly, it is the level of self belief one may have. People with higher self belief tend to do many things and have this perception that they can do anything they set out to do. They have this sense of liberty in their inner being and tend to handle challenging situations with relative confidence. As Heyward mentions, the box is collapsing nowadays, women and men are coming out of the box. Coming out means becoming the true self one really is, pursuing love, sexuality and justice without considering too much about how others think.

While talking about self reflection we cannot escape the topic of sexuality. In an article by Heyward, there is the placing of a lot of significance on sexual identity in a particular theme called coming out. Heyward argues that in the creation of individuality or self for that matter, sexuality has a spiritual importance. Heyward states that, this aspect could be, “the source all of higher passions, including our desire for peace, justice, and freedom. Here she reconciles her apprehension over the correlation between sexual labels and religious ideologies, between her sense of self and her calling as a religious leader” (Heyward, 78).

In spite of this, societies are not shaped by individuals; they are shaped by the masses. The traditions and rules that govern a specific place are efforts to restrain some characters and uphold others. As a result we have uniform characters, characters that do not have forms, a people that don’t know what they really are and don’t know their individual strengths. They are more like slaves of the established rule. In some societies, thinking outside the box is discouraged; in some cases it involved facing punishment, even death. Nevertheless, according to Rampton and Stauber, how much trust should people put into the authority nowadays? In the society filled with manipulation and propagandas, seeking the truly inner thought is crucial. Yet, still hearing others out, especially the ones with opposing opinions who would in fact makes one think deeper on one’s own idea, discovering the beauty of liberty of thought and discussion. Not speaking out one’s idea is no better than having the truth buried (Mill, 47).

Everyone can be greater than their thoughts. When people stand for what they believe in, when they fight to protect their ideas, and when nothing could stop them from being who they are, revolution happens (Hayes, 76). Even if they fail, the idea will still be developed or inspire by someone else to counting our way to achieving a good society overall.

Works cited

Bandura, James. Self efficacy. London: Stanford University press, 2005. Print.

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Chan, Sucheng. You are short besides. Boston: Bacon press, 1989. Print.

Hayes, Daniel. The rapture of maturity: New York, NY: Oxford University press, 2000. Print.

Heyward, Carter. Our passion for justice. New York, NY: The pilgrim P, 1984. Print.

Mill, Stuart. Of thought and decision. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 2008, Print.

Staples, Brent. Men and public places. Hapers, 1986. Print.

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