This article is based off Psychologist Carl Rogers: Three Cs of Self Concept.
When you were born, you lacked the ability to distinguish yourself from the world around you. At some point during your early stages, you discovered that you are an independent entity of the world around you. This concept of Self has guided your decisions and actions, and will for the rest of your life. It is simply, “Who you are” and “How you feel about yourself”.
The concept of Self is defined by three components: Complexity, Consistency, and Clarity.
Complexity: This is the number of roles you have in your life. You could be a son, brother and a father. You could also be a boss at work, a coach your children’s sport teams, and be an activist in the community. Each one of these requires you to take on a different identity while in this role. These roles may also cause you to have different physical characteristics, personality traits, or belong to different social identities.
Consistency: This is the similarity or difference in the roles you have in your life. High consistency requires you to have similar traits. If you are an athlete and a soldier, both require you to be fit and active. This plays well if you are good at your overlapping traits. However, it can also cause a single event to affect multiple areas of your life. For example, if you become injured playing a sport, it will impact your ability to be a soldier. Many times when athletes experience career ending injury they become depressed. This is because they have identified with being an athlete, and when that identity goes away, they struggle to answer “Who you are” and “How you feel about yourself”.
Additionally, there are roles that cause you to fill in vastly different identities. You can’t treat your spouse the same way that you treat your employees. Likewise, if you are active in a church, but you are in a social group that goes out to bars on the weekends, there may be a conflict of identities to which may cause internal struggle.
Clarity: This is the extent to which you understand who you truly are. Self-awareness is an ability that takes honesty and work to truly understand. Clarity tends to increase with age.
People tend to have better psychological well-being when they have high complexity, high clarity, and high consistency.