By Kate Skurat
What Is a Sense of Self? Great Tips Building a Stronger Sense of Self
What is a sense of self? It is how a person perceives themselves, has the concept of who they are. It involves what one thinks about their personality traits, beliefs, abilities, roles, relationships, values, and associations in the world.
A strong sense of self breeds healthy ambition and confidence in our abilities. It supports us in making choices in our lives and knowing what we want. Self-knowledge helps us understand what makes us proud of ourselves and what we should work on. That’s why it’s essential.
And this article provides some useful tips about how one can improve their sense of self.
What Are the Factors That Influence One’s Sense of Self?
Developing a sense of self starts from a person’s childhood. This early period significantly affects how they feel about themselves in adulthood.
Here are some factors that form one’s self-knowledge from a young age.
A child’s relationship with their parents determines whether they develop a healthy sense of self or not. How they were raised helps build their identity and understanding of relationship behaviors in the future.
For example, some people grow up deprived of a parent’s or guardian’s love or acceptance. As a result, they shape themselves to meet their parents’ expectations and earn their approval. This behavior carries on to adulthood. They always feel the need to forego their own needs to please others.
It is the process of developing your unique self. Children explore themselves by trying new things, expressing their needs, and learning their desires.
When their self-expressions attempts are criticized or punished by parents, teachers, or friends, children learn to suppress their feelings and needs. Then, they shape themselves into more “safe” versions of themselves, ignoring their inner self. As a result, people can struggle with self-esteem issues in adulthood.
In this case, online therapy is very beneficial in helping a person establish their sense of individuality and improve self-esteem and self-worth.
Acceptance and the Need to Fit In
If a person finds it difficult to socialize with their peer, they transform into the socially accepted versions of themselves or become “social chameleons” instead of embracing their identities.
The need to be accepted is great for someone who does not have a healthy sense of self. It makes someone develop multiple personas to fit into different aspects of their lives. One may say that a person’s behavior at work and home is different.
Checking in with Your Sense of Self
There is a way to get some insights about your sense of self and determine whether it’s healthy. Ask yourself the simple questions below.
What Are My Strengths, and Do I Know How to Use Them to Achieve My Goals?
Being able to recognize your strengths and believing in your capabilities helps you achieve goals. It’s an attribute of a healthy sense of self.
Do I Always Say “Yes” to Please Others?
If so, you might not be living for yourself and might have a weak sense of self. It’s okay to accommodate others sometimes but not every time. Otherwise, you become a “people pleaser” but not yourself.
What Makes Me Happy?
Are there important people who bring happiness to you? Are there any activities that help you enjoy yourself?
Identifying them will help you recognize a lot about what you value in people and yourself.
5 Ways to Develop a Strong Sense of Self
It’s important to improve your sense of self. And here are ways for improving it.
Here are our guidelines on how to develop a sense of self and rediscover yourself.
Learn How to Be Alone
Being apart from others for some time is an important practice to know yourself better. Every person should be comfortable spending time by themselves. Learn to enjoy your own company and focus on yourself.
Find something to do alone, away from all distractions, to explore who you are. Having time for you and your feelings helps to recover the sense of self.
Here are some activities that may boost your sense of self include:
- Listening to music
- Taking walks in the town
- Being in nature
- Practicing meditation
- Reading books
- Performing art activities
- Trying new hobbies
Define the Things You Like and Those You Don’t
Create a list with your traits, activities, events, and people who brought some positive and negative moments. Put the positives on the “likes” column and the negatives on the “dislikes” column. Then, create a final column for preferences. Think about the things you admire from yourself and those around you: friends, family, collegues, etc.
Create Strong Boundaries and Learn to Say “No”
One way of developing a sense of self is learning to say “no” to what you don’t like. Establish clear boundaries and don’t allow others to overstep them. Focus more energy on your values and people who respect them.
Here are some effective ways for creating boundaries:
- Be direct
- Tune into your emotions
- Be assertive
- Stick to your values as they support your decision-making and define your inner world.
Make Your Own Choices
The decisions you make should be primarily aimed at benefitting yourself but not others. Don’t make a habit of taking the input about your life from others. That is a form of neglecting who you are. Learn to trust your gut in your decisions.
When people have always made your decisions for you, it might become scary to start making them yourself. Start with the little choices and build up from there. It is a good start towards developing a healthy sense of self.
Do things because you want to, not because others tell you to.
Be Responsible for Yourself
When you have a weak sense of self, you will often over-empathize with others. Sometimes you are even likely to take responsibility for their actions or feelings. Every person is responsible for their own actions.
Don’t make it a responsibility to please others and allow others to be in charge of your life. Instead, start focusing that energy on improving your well-being.
When to Seek Professional Help
A less-developed sense of self is quite common. It holds you back as a person. It can affect your life in all aspects: education, career, relationships, etc.
The journey to rebuilding your sense of self might seem tough, but you don’t have to take it alone. Seek support from a mental health professional.
Online therapy from Calmerry can help you establish your understanding of who you are and discover your potential. Licensed and experienced online counselors will provide the guidance you need to improve decision-making skills, deal with self-image issues, and cope with relationship concerns.
Just start improving yourself and finding out how amazing you are!
Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling.
Follow Kate here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-skurat-5348381b9/