The world can be cruel and uncaring and life isn’t fair. It’s so easy to feel beaten down by all the stuff life throws at you, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In order to be able to stand tall in the face of adversity, you simply need a strong sense of self. Getting one takes a lot of work and even more time. However, by understanding what this means and how to actually make it happen, you’ll be well on your way.
What is a “sense of self,” anyway?
Simply put, a “sense of self” is a psychological construct that refers to a person’s subjective experience of themself as a unique and distinct entity, separate from other people and the environment. Think of it as your main character energy. It’s basically the mental representation that you have of yourself, which includes your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes about who you are. It’s about everything that makes you, you.
A sense of self is an important aspect of your identity. Not only that, but it plays a crucial role in your mental health and well-being. It helps you figure out and understand who you are, what you stand for, and how you fit into the world. It also gives you a framework for the experiences you have in life and helps you interpret them.
A well-developed sense of self can make you more confident, boost your self-esteem, and give you a sense of purpose in life. Without it, you can end up feeling confused, insecure, and lost in life. In other words, it’s worth putting in the time and work to develop your sense of self.
What is an example of a sense of self?
The concept of a sense of self can be a bit tough to understand. To put it in simpler terms, an example of a sense of self is when someone has a really positive and well-developed self-image. They know who they are, what their values and beliefs are, as well as what their strengths and weaknesses are. No matter what life throws at them, they never doubt who they are at their core.
In addition, someone with a strong sense of self usually has a crystal clear understanding of their own personality, interests, and goals. They’re confident in their abilities and they know where they’re going in life (or at least trust that life will reveal the right path for them in time). Plus, they recognize their own limitations and fully embrace their flaws. They’re human and they get that it’s part of what makes life so rewarding.
On the flip side, someone with a poor sense of self might struggle with self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a lack of direction in life. They might have a negative self-image and struggle to recognize their own strengths and abilities. They’re usually easily influenced by other people’s opinions and tend to struggle to make decisions for themself.
What does it mean to have a strong sense of self?
- You’re self-aware. A strong sense of self requires self-awareness. You understand your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Plus, you’re aware of how others perceive you (though you don’t let that control you).
- You know what you believe and what your values are. A strong sense of self also requires some serious clarity when it comes to your values and beliefs. This means knowing what you stand for and what’s important to you. Then, you live your life in alignment with these values.
- You’re incredibly confident. You’re confident in your abilities and strengths, which enables you to take risks and pursue your goals, even in the face of challenges and obstacles. That’s not to say you don’t have moments of doubt, but you’re able to quickly pull yourself together.
- You’re resilient in the face of adversity. You don’t struggle to bounce back from setbacks and failures. Not only that, but you’re able to learn and grow from these experiences so you can evolve and grow as a person.
- You fully accept yourself, flaws and all. You don’t berate yourself for being human. You know you have flaws and imperfections, but you accept them. Not only that, but you realize you’re still a valuable and lovable person in spite of them.
- You’re assertive. You don’t hang back and let everyone have their way while you stay silent. You can state your needs and boundaries in a clear and respectful manner, but you’re also not a jerk. You can take feedback and criticism when it’s valid, and you do it gracefully.
- You value your autonomy. A strong sense of self means being able to stand on your own two feet. This means having a sense of independence and self-reliance and being able to make decisions for yourself without being overly influenced by other people’s opinions. Haters gonna hate, after all.
- You respect people who are different from you. Not everyone is like you, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s what makes life so great. You always respect the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others, even when they differ from your own.
How to strengthen your self-image
- Do some self-reflection now and again. Take the time to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and identify areas for improvement. Whether you do this via meditation, journaling, or simply giving yourself time and space to think, it’s worth trying.
- Solidify your values and beliefs. Identify your core values and beliefs and make sure your actions and behaviors are aligned with them. Decide what you stand for and never compromise on that, no matter what anyone else says, does, or thinks.
- Set personal goals as well as professional ones. Setting and achieving personal goals can help build confidence and a sense of purpose. Life isn’t all about what you can accomplish in your career. Think of what you’d like to achieve personally and go for it. It will really strengthen your sense of self.
- Practice self-care (duh). Make time for self-care activities that promote physical and emotional well-being. The more you fill up your metaphorical cup, the more peaceful you’ll feel in your head and heart.
- Let your support system lift you up. You have great friends, a family that loves you, and maybe even a therapist with some great tips and skills to help you through life. Lean on those resources because they’re more than happy to help you. The more you utilize what’s at your fingertips, the better off you’ll be.
- Learn from challenges and setbacks. Instead of seeing challenges and setbacks as failures, try to view them as opportunities for growth and learning. That’s easier said than done, of course. However, the more you practice this sort of reframing, the easier it will become.
- Learn how to be assertive. Work on developing assertiveness skills so that you can communicate your needs and boundaries in a clear and respectful manner. You’re not a wallflower, so don’t act like one. Say what you think and feel and go for what you want. Just remember to be respectful about it.
- Cultivate self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would a close friend. Be gentle with yourself. Offer yourself grace, understanding, and love.
- Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay present and focused on the present moment. This can not only help reduce stress and anxiety, but it can give you the clarity you need to focus on the other items on this list.
- Get off your ass and take action. Take action to make positive changes in your life, whether it’s taking up a new hobby, making a career change, or improving your relationships.