What Makes You, You? 15 Tips for Nurturing Your 'Sense of Self'
You may be familiar with the concept of your “sense of self”, but it is one of those things that is difficult to describe. The concept of a sense of self is pretty abstract, and oftentimes you only have an understanding of what it means when you feel as if you have lost yours, and don’t know what your sense of self is. “Sense of self” is defined as how you perceive your personality traits, beliefs and purpose are in life. “Sense of self” relates to everything from how you would describe yourself to others, to what you hope to accomplish in the future. It defines who you are as a person, and affects how you interact with other people and the world.
While your “sense of self” is innate to your person, it is not unwavering or unchanging. And it can be affected by things like a change in relationship status or making a new friend. There are many times in life when you may feel as if you lost your sense of self. This often happens when you are surrounding yourself with new people, and are trying to figure out where you fit in new settings and groups. It can be easy to lose your “sense of self” in friendships and new relationships as well as in a long term marriage. People lost their sense of self during different times in their lives, based on external factors. And while we admit that it does happen to everyone, it’s important to nurture and build your sense of self if you have lost it. After all, your sense of self is your true authentic self, so it’s important to make sure that you are showing that to the world, no matter what new or old relationship you find yourself in.
While it may be hard to recognize when you are losing your sense of self, it’s not hard to recognize in others. When people lose their sense of self they often morph into a new person, mirroring things that they admire in a partner or friend. Other times, they change to appease a new partner or friend and take on personality traits, interests and goals that are not authentic. If a friend comes to you and says that you have changed, or if you notice yourself morphing into a different person, or if you find that you don’t recognize your actions or goals, then you may have temporarily lost your sense of self. If this is the case, you should not worry. It is totally possible to re-establish yourself, but it will take some conscious effort on your part.
Here are a few tips on how to build a strong sense of self:
- Setting boundaries
People that have a tendency to people-please are often more prone to losing their sense of self. This is because they feel the need to make others happy, before making themselves happy which can result in changing your behavior to placate a friend or partner, taking up hobbies that aren’t of interest or changing your goals to match that of a new friend or partner. While it’s important to compromise in every relationship, it’s more important to recognize when you need to stand up for yourself and your boundaries. Relationships (whether they are romantic or platonic) are all about give and take, which means that you are allowed to take some of the time! It’s important to stand up for yourself and learn to say not when something is important to you and/or essential to who you are. A good friend or partner should never put you in a position where you have to compromise your values or who you are as a person, but if you are unable to say no to anything, they may not know if and/or when you are compromising. Learning to say no, and establish boundaries for yourself will help you maintain your sense of self in platonic, romantic, new and old relationships alike.
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Sometimes it takes a change of pace and space to rediscover your sense of self. It can be easy to get caught in the same old habits that caused you to lose your sense of self in the first place if you stay in the same environment. If you have a ‘not recognizing yourself in the mirror’ kind of moment, it might be time to book it out of town for a little while. There is no need to go anywhere fancy or far away. It actually may be better to go the more rustic approach (if that is something that you know you like to do). Taking some time away from your life to try new experiences and be alone will help you remember who you are. As cliche as it may sound, it’s important to get some distance from your life every once in a while so that you can reflect.
- Saying positive affirmations
People lose their sense of self for many different reasons, but a lot of the time it is because they lack a general self confidence. It’s easier to lose your sense of self if you are not confident in who you are in the first place. A lack of confidence might cause you to be easily swayed by people in your life, which can cause you to lose yourself. To combat this tendency, it’s important to work on your self confidence. Saying positive affirmations to yourself is a great way to slowly build your confidence over time. Taking a few minutes to look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are great, and smart and worth it can do wonders for your self image and general confidence levels. If you are unsure about positive affirmations in general, there’s lots of literature out there that proves the efficacy of pumping yourself up. And there are plenty of lists of things that you can say to yourself if you can’t come up with affirmations by yourself. It can feel awkward or silly at first, but with time you will become more confident in the process, and your self confidence will improve.
Exercising is so important for physical, emotional and mental health. Getting your endorphins going is a great way to help settle your head and work through things that have been on your mind. Sometimes people lose a sense of self because they forget to take care of themselves. Whether it’s going on a run, doing some yoga, hitting the gym or taking your dog on a walk, getting your blood pumping will help you find your sense of self again.
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- Practicing self-care
In addition to exercising, it’s important to practice other types of self-care. Self-care can mean a lot of different things from eating well, to focusing on improving your sleep schedule to journaling or meditating. Self-care is about carving time out of your day to address your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. No one can be their true authentic self if they are running on no sleep. Or are eating terribly and feel bad. Or if they are not able to work out their problems through journaling or meditation. Prioritizing self-care in your life is a positive affirmation in and of itself. Taking time for self-care shows yourself that you are worth it, and that you need to listen to your wants and needs. Getting in touch with your physical needs in terms of exercise, sleep and nutrition, can help you get more in touch with your emotional needs, which is at the core of who you are as a person.
- Talking to a therapist
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize when you have lost your “sense of self”. Or it can be hard to rediscover who you are if you have lost your “sense of self”. In these cases, it’s often necessary to bring in some professional help. Talking to a therapist can help you identify whether you have lost your sense of self and how to make steps towards finding yourself again. Turning to a trained counselor in this way can help you find your personality, values and goals again which is so important. For many people talking to a personal counselor will be enough to help them find their “sense of self”, but for others it’s necessary to talk to a relationship counselor, so that they can cultivate a relationship that allows them to nurture their sense of self. If the relationship is the reason you have lost your sense of self, then it may be necessary to approach this problem with your partner. Relish is a relationship coaching app with trained relationship counselors that can help you rediscover your sense of self while you are in a relationship. The app provides personalized coaching so that you and your partner can identify and work towards your relationships goals (including prioritizing your “sense of self”) as a team.
Relish has all the benefits of therapy, at a fraction of the cost. In your pocket. At your convenience. Fully customized for you and your life. What do you have to lose? Click here to try our award winning relationship app free for one week.