Tips on Developing a Sense-of-Self

Preamble: During development, disruptions can occur, by abuse and/or neglect (in varying degrees) and/or perceived threat of or real rejection (can be subtle) , which can impact our ability to develop a sense-of-self. In these cases our brains can wire in a way to focus more on others instead of ourselves, to adapt to the situation one is in at that time (ie to maintain relationships with others). The impact on an adult can be that where these ways of coping are no longer adaptive, but these neural pathways are still activated because they were formed during an earlier developmental phase. The task now is to form more adaptive pathways.

Here are some strategies and tips to help you develop a strong sense of self:

  1. Self-reflection: Take the time to examine how you think and feel about yourself. This self-awareness can provide greater insight into your values, beliefs, and unique identity.
  2. Define your values: Clarify your personal values and beliefs. Understanding what is important to you can help shape your sense of self and guide your choices and actions.
  3. Spend time alone: Carve out moments of solitude to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Spending time alone can help you connect with your inner self and gain a deeper understanding of who you are.
  4. Bring awareness to people pleasing: Ask yourself if you are doing or not doing something to avoid displeasing another person or group. We want to please within reason, but some of us can take it too far.
  5. Set healthy boundaries: Learning to set boundaries is crucial for developing a strong sense of self. It involves recognizing your needs and asserting them in relationships and interactions with others.
  6. Practice self-affirmation: Engage in positive self-talk and affirmations to boost your self-image and self-esteem. Repeat empowering statements that reinforce your capabilities and worth.
  7. Travel and explore: Stepping outside of your comfort zone through travel, new social connections or new food can be a powerful means of self-discovery.
  8. Surround yourself with support: Seek out supportive relationships and communities that uplift and validate your sense of self. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can strengthen your self-confidence.
  9. Increase self-awareness and decrease comparison: Focus on your own strengths and weaknesses rather than comparing yourself to others. Embrace your uniqueness and appreciate the qualities that make you who you are.
  10. Label your emotions: Focus on the way you are feeling in the present moment and give it a emotion word.
  11. Ask yourself what you like or want in a situation: If you find yourself asking others what they prefer, ask the self what you want. For example, “what food do I want to try?”.
  12. Seek Therapy

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