What does it mean to develop a sense of self?
To have a sense of self means to be aware of who you are. More specifically, you clearly know your values, beliefs, preferences in life, flaws, and almost everything that makes you unique.
While it usually isn’t necessary to think about your own sense of self, not being clear about your personal characteristics can be harmful.
People who have a strong sense of self know what they like and what characteristics form part of their personality. And there are many people who don’t have a clear sense of self and they’re not sure what they like or what their strengths are. This impacts many areas of their life even when they’re not aware of it.
Let’s look at why you should have a strong sense of self. As we learn why self-understanding matters, we’ll also look at how you can build greater self-knowledge.
Make life-affirming choices
It’s difficult to make important choices in life when you don’t know your likes and dislikes. When you have a strong sense of self, you’ll choose the right subjects to study in school or college. Your knowledge of your likes will also help you choose which career you want to pursue.
Many people pursue career paths because other people tell them what’s ‘good’ and what isn’t. If you’re aware that you’re an extrovert, then this will help you figure out that perhaps a sales or customer service role would be right for you. Whereas, if you’re an introvert, you should avoid such work and focus on jobs like blogging, coding, or other jobs where you have fewer interactions with a number of people.
Knowing your preferences can have a real impact on your happiness and career choices, making it critical to own and respect your feelings in general.
Set healthy boundaries
One of the key skills in life is to set healthy boundaries for yourself. When you set boundaries, you’re clear about what kind of behavior you’ll tolerate from others. And you can also set boundaries for your own actions. For example, when you value being independent when you’re older, you’ll create boundaries like not buying things just because of a business sale or using your credit card.
Having clear boundaries will allow you to stand up to difficult people and situations. You’ll know when to exit a work or personal situation where you won’t grow anymore. And you’ll develop self-respect in the long run because you’re consistently taking care of yourself.
Find your strengths
It isn’t possible for anyone to be good at everything. It’s a poor use of your time and also diffuses your energy along different lines.
Understanding your strengths will help you focus on areas that you’re good at. You may choose a more creative role at work or work towards a leadership role depending on what you’re good at.
When you identify and hone your strengths, you’ll also build confidence in your abilities.
Having a strong sense of self is not just about knowing what you’re good at or what you like. It’s also about being aware of your so-called ‘flaws’.
We all have weaknesses or issues that we’d like to improve on. But the widely accepted remedy of forcing ourselves to change or feeling guilt and self-blame won’t help.
Whether we’re dealing with procrastination, resistance to change, an unwillingness to learn or other issues, the first step is to make peace with these problem areas.
And having a strong sense of self means realizing what personal traits you need to work on while accepting them without too much judgment.
With acceptance, you’ll be able to make changes in a meaningful way. And if you have a setback, you’ll recover from it sooner and grow as a person.
Build habits that help
With a strong awareness of who you are, you’ll find it possible to work on both your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll be able to pick mentors, online courses, books, and other means to grow in the areas you care about.
You’ll also be able to curtail habits that don’t serve you. With self-awareness, it becomes possible to become more disciplined because you know that the actions you are taking are for your growth. Even when it feels difficult or unappealing to start a new habit.
It is difficult to have a strong sense of self only when you lack confidence or don’t practice looking inwards.
There are simple and effective ways to know what your traits and interests are; you can journal, meditate, and read helpful books that take you on an inner journey.
Having a strong sense of self pays off in the long run. You’ll fulfill your potential and act as an inspiration for those around you.