A stable sense of self is one of the greatest assets a human being can have.
It protects you from pain, suffering and serves as an anchor in the vicissitudes of life. But you are probably wondering: what is a sense of self? I wish to use simple language and illustrations to tell you what it is.
A sense of self is defined as the way you see yourself. In other words, it is called your self-image. We all have a way we see ourselves, which may or may not correspond with reality. You may have been told that you can never really know how you are: that you need others to tell you. This is correct in a limited sense. Why do I say so? You are about to find out.
When I was growing up, I believed so strongly in this assertion that my sense of self was derived solely from how others in my environment saw me. I believed I was intelligent just because others told me I was intelligent. I was convinced I was ugly because my schoolmates told me I was ugly. I had no way of seeing myself and of course, I became extremely sensitive to criticism and developed a very low self-esteem. Definitely not good for the psyche.
I struggled to develop my sense of self, sometimes succeeding, other times failing, especially when adversity struck me. Until one day…
In my quest for developing a stable sense of self, I had to read up on positive psychology. I came across a website, www.viainstitute.org and took the character strengths test. The results were somewhat surprising, but on deeper reflection, and with a knowledge of the meaning of words, I knew them to be true. This went a long way in helping me develop a good self-image.
I’m not done yet. From discussions with people I refer to as wise ones, I realized that the individuality of a human being is comprised of traits that are fairly stable over time. My character strengths, as revealed to me by www.viainstitute.org have been fairly stable, but I didn’t realize this. I was also made to understand that these were the real things that comprised my individuality, not my opinions, beliefs and lifestyle choices. The aforementioned things are just preferences, which never constituted my individuality. For instance, I saw myself as a writer. I felt it was an intrinsic part of me, but it never was. It’s just a lifestyle choice.
I have had the pleasure of putting my newfound discovery to practice and it has made me a lot more confident. Previously, I was the withdrawn type, quick to shrink from social interactions with others out of fear of losing my individuality but now, I interact more with people. That fear of engulfment I had does not hound me anymore. If I have to change some of my opinions, beliefs and lifestyle choices, I am willing to do this, so long as it won’t diminish my character strengths and core values. I have a much greater degree of inner freedom now, I can assure you.
There you have it: a sneak preview of what makes you develop a stable sense of self. Read the blog post again carefully so that you don’t miss out any important points and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.
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