Friday, July 23rd, 2010...12:55 pm
Developing a Healthy Sense of Self
Your sense of self is your knowledge and awareness of who you are. Sense of self requires a level of consciousness that predicates honesty (to yourself and others), about what you believe in, ascribe to, value, and uphold.
Sense of self also implies evolution. To develop your sense of self requires ongoing introspection, self-awareness, and self-responsibility. Out of our heightened awareness, comes the potential for self-improvement. You begin to take a hard look at those qualities that you are less happy about and say, “I want to change that about myself.”
Because sense of self encompasses self-esteem and self-worth, developing one impacts positively on the others. Having a strong sense of self means that you authentically feel inner contentment and happiness that comes from feeling good about who you are. It also means that you live in your truth – and that your conscious choices are always in line with what will make you happiest.
Each one of us can benefit from developing a better sense of self. It begins simply enough by learning how to connect within and acknowledge all that we currently are. Sounds easy…..right? Yet the truth is that most of us avoid focusing inward. It’s often easier to point the finger at others than to shine a flashlight on our own flaws and weaknesses. And yet to evolve because of our conscious effort, creates an immense degree of self-satisfaction and self-worth.
Below are 5 strategies for developing a positive sense of self:
- Practice self-honesty. Through our willingness to take a close look at who we are (including our strengths and weaknesses), we grow. It’s a lot like the old adage, ‘you can’t fix a problem unless you know what the problem is.’ You can’t expect to develop a better sense of who you are unless you are willing to be completely honest. Out of self-honesty comes knowledge and the ability to create positive intentions for improvement.
- Make a list of all of your positive qualities. These are the things that you feel most proud of and appreciate about yourself. Try and keep this list centered on your own personal attributes and successes rather than making it about others. Some examples of positive qualities include: being a good listener, your ability to make others laugh, being a loyal friend, and working hard at everything you do.
- Create a self-improvement list. This second list allows you to address particular aspects about yourself that you may have long overlooked. Create action steps for how you might go about improving each quality. Become conscious of the necessary action steps that will allow you to change a particular behavior or trait. For example, perhaps you would like to have better control over your temper. You realize that in order to do this, you first need to become better at recognizing the early warning signs of when you start to feel angry. By being consciously aware of your feelings, and through paying closer attention to the physiological signs that tell you when you are beginning to feel angry (i.e. muscle tension in your neck, clenched jaw, racing heart beat), you now have a choice around how you might react.
- Connect with your inner self. Buy a notebook and spend five minutes each day writing your thoughts and feelings. Use this exercise as a way of connecting internally with your self. While at first it may feel awkward to sit quietly and write whatever comes to mind, what you are doing is strengthening your relationship with your inner self. Taking the time to listen inwardly will increase your self-awareness and provide you with greater insight and wisdom. Try it for a week and notice what you learn about yourself.
- Visualize your ‘future self’. Using any new information you have learned about yourself from the four exercises above will help to create a clear picture of who you want to become. Most of us are unaware of the knowledge and wisdom that we have the capacity for attaining. We evolve because of our intention and willingness to do so. For example, you might decide that you want to be more patient, more tolerant of others’ differences, or perhaps you would like to become more positive. Having a healthy sense of self means that you continually strive for self-improvement and personal growth – even while you continue to recognize your strengths and successes.
Finally, strengthening your sense of self has everything to do with sharing yourself with others. You do this by being who you already are – kind, loving, caring, sympathetic, considerate, and thoughtful – with everyone whom you come into contact with. You see the positive results of your kind words, your smile, and your ability to make another person feel good by being your authentic self. Knowing that you have the power to create joy by being joy contributes to your positive feelings about yourself. Sense of self isn’t something that can be learned from a textbook or from a single life experience. It develops (like aspects of our personality), along a continuum throughout our lifetime.
Your relationship with yourself is the single most important relationship you will ever have. Developing your sense of self means strengthening your inner relationship as you continue to nurture and feed your soul.