How To Develop A Strong Sense Of Self

Discovering who we are and what our values are takes time and is an ever-evolving phenomenon. It is even more challenging in a culture with strong ideas about what we ‘should’ value and what we ‘should’ aspire to, even what we ‘should’ look like. 

Then add to this our family of origin, with their expectations, ideas, traditions, values, beliefs and hope for us, it’s a lot! 

One of our developmental tasks is to differentiate from our family of origin. This involves reflecting on their values and ways of being in the world to see if they feel congruent with our inner being. If your family have a strong vision of who you ‘should’ become, there will be a period of assessing if this is what YOU want, which could be difficult for you and your family.

I started to differentiate strongly from my family at 12. I remember suddenly disagreeing with some aspects of their worldview. I felt our fundamental values were aligned, but some attitudes felt incongruent with me.

It is normal through the teenage years to experiment with different ways of being in the world, to ‘try on’ being the ‘good girl’, the ‘goth’, the ‘rebel’, to see what fits. This is normal and healthy. It helps us discover what intuitively FEELS most aligned with our true self at that time. We hope to leave this phase with a more robust sense of self.

As adults, we are also constantly rediscovering ourselves, especially as we move through the milestones of marriage and parenting. Taking the time to continually rediscover yourself as the most important person in your life adds juice and authenticity to all your relationships.

What helped you discover a strong sense of self? For me, leaving home was a big time of discovery.

  • CHALLENGES AS A WAY TO KNOW YOURSELF – this could be travelling, setting yourself an athletic goal, or surprise challenges in life. Each challenge is an opportunity for you to see what you are capable of and who you are.