When I was a senior in high school, it started online dating. I had a handful of friends who were trying it. So, I jumped on the bandwagon to be a part of the friend group experience.
I was never really into dating or guys. It just wasn’t a part of my priorities at the time. But out of sheer desperation for connection to my friends and a pathetic desire to be approved of by men, I plunged into the online dating world even though I knew it wasn’t for me and wasn’t in my best interest.
From there, I committed a series of horrible mistakes (though those are a story for a different day). As much as I want to beat myself up from this juvenile experience, I also have to cut myself some slack. I was only 17 at the time. And since then, I’ve developed a much stronger sense of who I am.
With a strong sense of self, you don’t bend at the whim of others around you, you don’t feel the need to people please as much, and you can open the gateway to self love and self esteem.
Why do I bother with this grossly personal and embarrassing story? Because as much as I face palm to think about my stupid teenage mistakes, I don’t want us to continue making mistakes at expense of our personal growth because we just don’t know ourselves well enough in the first place.
What can I say? It’s time to meet you! But first, we have to check out all subtly unknown, sometimes underrated, but completely liberating benefits of having a strong sense of self.
Self Love Shows You Who You Are
I always say that you have to know yourself to love yourself. Self love is based on your relationship with you. So, the deepness of your self love depends upon how well you know who you are.
It makes sense, right? The more you know a person, the more you can love and appreciate them. So, the greater sense of self you have, the more you can love yourself.
Additionally, you can use your self awareness to develop your ideal self care routine and know which self love strategies are the best fit for you.
Ok, great! A strong sense of self sounds like the perfect springboard into deeper self love. But, let’s be honest. Getting to know who you are is scary. Sometimes, we’re just not ready to face who we are. The prospect of seeing the unsightly parts of ourselves is absolutely paralyzing.
But before we can even further discuss the (amazing) benefits of a strong sense of self, we have to overcome the mental trap of not wanting to do it in the first place. Specifically, being afraid to face who we are.
Be honest with me. Are there parts of yourself that you want to change? Parts that once you start thinking about them, you instantly beat down on yourself?
Hey, it happens! We all have pieces of ourselves we would rather keep in the shadows. And it’s easy to use those as an excuse to not get to know who we are. We hide behind the qualities we’re most ashamed of, thinking that knowing ourselves means solely exposing the bad.
But really, the process of getting to know yourself doesn’t have to start with the absolute worst. I mean, if you’re learning how to use a DSLR, it’s not like you’re going to throw yourself into a dark room, have no instruction, and expect yourself to take amazing low-light photos. No, you start with the basics, great natural light, and practice until you increase your familiarity with your camera and photographic skill.
When you’re starting the process of getting to know yourself, you don’t have to start with the stuff that scary as all hell. You probably even shouldn’t!
Just start with the basics. Get to know your personality type, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and spend time with you. Then, the more comfortable you become, the more equipped you’ll be to handle the tougher stuff down the road.
So sure, you might feel relieved that you don’t have to lock yourself in a room and face your worst demons to “know who you are.”
But do you still feel some hesitation?
Another reason we are often afraid to get to know ourselves is because of the lack of value we place in who we are. We don’t even think that we’re worth it to begin with.
Why bother getting to know me when I need to get groceries, kick butt at work, manage a household and family, and do all this without getting to wear yoga pants 24/7?
It’s easy to put yourself at the bottom of your priority list. But that’s one of the most dangerous things we can do for ourselves. Why? Because the moment we neglect our importance, our ability to provide to others drops faster than you take off those tight ass pants at the end of the day.
As natural givers, we find great satisfaction from taking care of other people. But in order to do that at our highest capacity, we have to be well taken care of ourselves. And knowing who we are is the first step to finding stability, security, value, and love within each and every one of us.
Plus, I gotta say (and I’m sure all your friends and family would say, too), if you don’t get to know yourself, you’re missing out on the opportunity to know a truly incredible woman.
You’re kind, giving, loving, and compassionate. You’re the type of best friend that anyone would be lucky to have. So, why deny yourself the ability to know who you are?
Don’t let fear take away the chance to know one the most incredible women in the world…YOU.
But the opportunities don’t even stop there. Developing a sense of self will unlock so many doors for you than “just” a deeper self love.
When I started getting to know myself more, much of the intention was to deepen my self love. But the more that I got to know who I am, appreciate and love that person, the more unknown benefits rolled out their way.
Moreover, I realized that having a strong sense of self was really the only thing that I needed to tackle life. Why? Because if I know who I am, what I need, and how I interact with the world, I have all the knowledge I need to fulfill myself the best I can.
Specifically, I was finally armed with these six liberating benefits of having a strong sense of self. Get to know who you and you can have them too!
Related: If you’re looking for a bit of how-to for self awareness, be sure to read up on How the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment Changed My Life (and can change yours too!)
A Strong Sense of Self is the Basis You Need to Conquer Life
One: You Have Your Own Feelings
If you’ve seen the recent Guardians of the Galaxy 2 movie, you’ve met the empath Mantis. Mantis succinctly explains that telepaths read the thoughts of others whereas empaths feel the feelings of others.
When I first met Mantis, an echo of my past wanted to raise her hand in the air and say “ hey! That’s me, too!” But I’m not necessarily like that now.
While I’m still a highly empathetic person, I used to have an overwhelming emotional capacity. If I saw someone in pain, I felt so deeply that it was damaging to my own wellbeing. I took on more than I could emotionally handle.
Of course, I firmly believe that it’s important to be empathetic (I mean, I’m all about self love for natural givers, how could I not?). But it’s also important not to let your empathetic nature overwhelm and drown you.
Once I developed a stronger sense of self, the feelings of others stopped overwhelming me. I no longer simply absorbed the feelings of others as my own. Instead, I feel for other people, can provide for their emotional needs, but can still hold my own ground.
When we just take one the emotions of others, we take away power from ourselves. When it comes to being able to take care of others, we can’t provide from them, if we’re drowning in someone else’s emotions.
Bottom Line: A stronger sense of self makes you less emotionally porous. Your emotions hold ground over others, in a good way.
Two: You Know Your Needs
The more you know you who are, the more you know what you need. This applies to all facets of life. For instance, when you’re developing a multidimensional self care routine, you’ll know which areas to focus on more and what activities will pay off the most for you.
For me, I know that I need to focus on my social needs more than my spiritual needs since I’m much more social than I am religious. While I wish that I could be a highly spiritual person in an ideal sense, I’m not. Once I got to know myself more, I embraced this and focused my life on fulfilling my higher priority needs.
I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Nothing rings truer for a natural giver. As much as I know you’re inclined to give, give, give to others, you gotta make sure to give to yourself first. Knowing your needs make sure you can do this in the most efficient and effect ways possible! Because again, you’re totally worth it, babe.
Bottom Line: A sense of self highlights you needs so you can focus your life around satisfying them.
Three: You’re Decisive
Of course, once you actually know what you need, you can make intentional decisions to provide for those needs. You know what types of activities will pay off the most for your personal fulfillment and satisfaction. Thus, making it easier to decide what’s worth your time and energy.
If you know that you need to be alone to recharge, passing on a Friday night dinner with your friends goes from you being a “bad friend” to providing for yourself. Any decision that leads to your betterment and increased well being IS the “right” decision.
With a strong sense of self, you’ll feel that much more confident in making these types of decisions because you’ll be more focused on doing what’s best for you. Not in a selfish way (let’s be honest, you have to try to be selfish since ya know, you’re a freaking natural giver!). But in a way that fosters your personal fulfillment in life.
Bottom Line: Knowing who you are means knowing what you need. Knowing what you need means being able to choose to pursue that fulfillment.
Four: You’re Picky
Once I grew to know myself and my needs, I became highly selective of what and who is worth my time. I ended draining friendships, cut out toxic people, and stopped wasting my time on useless tasks. I finally prioritized myself because I saw value in myself and my time.
Now, this didn’t happen in a single day or even a single year. But the stronger you feel in who you are, the more confident you becoming in noticing ill-fitting friendship and other time wasters.
Sometimes, I need to binge watch Netflix to recharge. When that starts feeling draining (usually because it’s too monotonous), I try to change things up. At that point, it’s not recharging or improving me. So, I need to reset my standards and work on something more fulfilling.
Same goes for any other activity and especially relationships. Maybe you’ve had a close friend for years. But suddenly, you notice you don’t enjoy time with her, you always feel emotionally drained around her, and you catch yourself wondering why you spend time with her.
Ending a friendship is always hard. But with a stronger sense of self, you’ll at least know when it’s time to cut the chord. While this might sound harsh at first, it’s important to know what you need from a friendship in order to be selective about who you spend your valuable time with.
You, your time, and your energy ARE valuable. So, treat yourself as such! Reduce wasting energy on the bad friendships so you can provide more to the good ones.
Bottom Line: Having a sense of self gives you some freaking standards, girl!
Five: You Define Who You Are
I have a former friend who was constantly defining herself based on what other people told her. People who just met her always said she was so kind and empathetic. So, she always mirrored this language when identifying herself. But in reality (at least from my perspective), this behavior was extremely selective. The people she was closest to received her empathy the least.
I know she wanted to be a kind and empathetic person. She even saw herself as such. But because she wasn’t in tune with who she was (genuinely and honestly), she was blinded to her actual behavior based on what other people said to her.
If she had a better sense of herself, she would know that her empathetic nature wasn’t distributed evenly across the people in her life. Thus, providing her the opportunity to change and improve. Your image, sense of self, and self worth, are defined by you. Your image isn’t at the whim of other people.
Additionally, this concept extends to self worth. Once you define yourself, your perception of your worth is defined by you alone. So, the opinions of others don’t mold your opinions as easily as if you didn’t hold a strong ground in who you are. Not only are you unlocking self love, but self esteem too!
Bottom Line: If you know who you are, you don’t need others to define yourself for you. Thus, launching you into stronger self worth.
Six: Confidence in the Unknown
A few years ago, I was an absolute control freak. I always wanted a plan and constantly had to know what was happening and when. But now, I’m weaning off the need to be in control and know everything about my surroundings.
For example, two years ago, I would have wanted a strict plan for the direction of my blog. I would have had my monthly content planned to a strict schedule, wanted to know exactly how I would grow each year, and never leave myself any breathing room. If I didn’t know what was going to happen, I’d panic, feel completely exposed, and fill the void as quickly as possible.
Now, I still love a good calendar and to-do list. But I’m not forcing myself to know every detail in advance. In fact, I’m absolutely loving that I don’t know where my blog/business will go in the future.
Why? I’m confident enough in who I am, so the future isn’t an abyss of terror and unknown. It’s an opportunity to grow, build something and be someone I never imagined I could.
If the future is absolutely terrifying to you, try focusing on yourself and who you are now instead of trying to plan everything down to the minute. Sure, we all love a sense of control. I’m not saying to burn your daily planner and never write another to-do list. But it’s also important to know who we are so we can feel solid about our abilities. Thus, keeping us open to the possibility of change and growth. The blankness of the future becomes a page we can write on instead of an empty black hole.
Bottom Line: Knowing who you are means having security within yourself. Once you trust yourself, you don’t need control over everything and can trust in your ability to handle the unknown.
Seven: You Don’t Have to Fake It
When I was in high school, I was always trying to be a different person. I tried to morph into different social groups and classify myself based on basic archetypes. I didn’t know who I was, so I felt like I was constantly faking who “Melanie” truly was.
I’m sure this is a process for plenty of young people. To a certain extent, this is a part of all self discovery. But really, it’s shouldn’t be anything that lasts much longer than adolescence. You should have a strong sense of self so that you can embrace authenticity. There’s not need to try to morph to be anyone else, fit into another identity, be someone you’re not.
Bottom Line: You are simply you. And once you know and accept that, you can start to love that person, too.