The Importance of A Strong Sense of Self and How To Gain It

By Dylan Buckley|Updated July 25, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Tanya Harell, LPC

A strong sense of self is vital, especially in this day and age. With so many external influences and variables that can change our lives in an instant and pull the roots out from where we stand, a robust sense of self is what keeps individuals grounded and on the right course. A strong sense of self allows us to go through any storm we may encounter without being swayed by the winds of change. But how does one go about gaining a strong sense of self? More importantly, what is a strong sense of self?

No Matter What You've Experienced, You Can Develop A Strong Sense Of Self.

A sense of self is defined as one's perception of oneself and an awareness of who you truly are. Each person's sense of self is directly related to how they feel about themselves, their levels of self-esteem, and their confidence or lack thereof. Each person's overall perception of self is critical because it lays the foundation for all other aspects and elements in our lives. A strong sense of self often breeds confidence and ambition during a fragile sense of self-engenders cowardice and lethargy. Consequently, a strong sense of self is utterly paramount, and so is knowing how to gain it. If this is something you seek to do, we will learn more about how you can accomplish this later throughout the article.

How To Gain A Stronger Sense Of Self

The road to self-awareness and the path to your true self begins with a few key steps and is a journey that is always evolving. If you are just starting or if you stumbled a bit and need some help to get back on track, you are not alone. Here are some great tips to help you discover your true self:

Believe In You!

Believing and loving your true self is vital to attaining a strong sense of self. Believing in your true self is the defining factor of a strong sense of self. It can be very impactful for a person to know who they are, trust in their strengths and abilities, and know they can accomplish anything they put their minds to and work for.

Believing in yourself is something that comes from within, not external sources. Encouragement and support from other people are great. However, what matters is what you believe, not what others think. This is especially true when you face critics and negative individuals. Regardless of what anyone else says, your power comes from within. With a strong sense of self, you know exactly who you are and what you are capable of, and no one else is able to tell you otherwise. People with a strong conviction in who they are are able to remain unswayed by the energy of others.

Having a strong sense of self is first acquired by maintaining inner self-belief because confidence in your true self is powerful enough to overcome all kinds of hardships, struggles, and obstacles that will inevitably present themselves at one point or another. Individuals who know who they are and love that individuals are equipped to handle challenges and difficulties. Inner belief also produces hope and breeds positive energy. Those who wish to gain a strong sense of self should first begin by believing in themselves and their abilities. After this has been achieved, the next step can be taken.

Know When To Say No!

Believe it or not, knowing when to say no is vital to each person's sense of self. Life is abundantly full of distractions, requirements, demands, and other obligations. Knowing when to turn down certain people, situations, and requests is imperative to acquiring and maintaining one's sense of self. The inability to please everyone and everything by always saying yes are extremely draining. It also causes the individual to lose sight of who he or she is as they pursue the hopeless endeavor of attempting to do it all.

Not only does the ability to say "no" help to avoid feelings of overwhelm or burnout, but it also helps a person learn more about who they really are. For example, a working parent is likely to have many demands and obligations. In addition to caring for their spouse and children, the parent must also tend to their professional duties. This might require working longer hours on certain nights, traveling, or attending office conferences and business meetings. While a busy schedule and well-roundedness can be fruitful and beneficial, they can easily turn toxic if taken to the extreme.

Knowing when to say no is paramount. It provides boundaries and helps you understand what is most important to you. It also seriously reduces stress and boosts clear thinking. Having a strong sense of self is heavily reliant on one's internal state of mind. Finally, knowing when to say no is a good thing. The people who are truly meant to be in your life will understand that nobody can always say yes to everything. Limits and boundaries are good for the mind, body, and soul. 

Develop Your Hobbies And Interests!

Hobbies and interests are healthy, life-enriching activities. Not only do they reduce stress, boost confidence, and combat boredom, but hobbies also allow each person to discover more about who they are and what they like. 

As you work to boost your connection to your sense of self, ask what makes you happy. What do you enjoy doing? Are you into the arts or physical sports? Do you enjoy traveling and venturing to new places around the world? Once you pinpoint your hobby, try to practice it regularly, take a related class, and network with people who also enjoy your favorite activities.

If you are struggling to find a hobby, you are not alone. It may take a while to discover activities that bring you joy. A question that could help you discover your hobbies is to ask, "What activities did I enjoy as a child?" Often, the activities and hobbies enjoyed as children will still bring joy to individuals as adults. 

Take Some Time For You!

Believing in your true self, knowing how and when to say no, and discovering your hobbies are all excellent ways to understand and gain a stronger sense of your true self. However, one of the least commonly discussed yet ironically obvious ways to gain a good perception of your true self is to have some alone time. This is not to be confused with self-isolation or cutting off family members, friends, or coworkers, but from time to time, spending time alone is healthy and greatly contributes to discovering your true self.

Taking time to care for you is easier than it sounds. Occasional alone time can be as simple as taking a walk in the park, working up a sweat at the gym, going to see a movie, or even visiting a museum. Options are plentiful, and how you choose to take time to care for you remains entirely up to you. However, getting a healthy dosage of solitude allows for reflection, future planning, and a deeper understanding of life. Each of the aforesaid individual activities will sharpen your self-perception while improving your quality of life.

Cultivating Self-Awareness And Self-Confidence

Developing self-awareness and self-confidence is an extensive topic, and the exercises out there are numerous, which can make it hard for you to determine what you should be doing daily to ensure that you are on track. To get you started, here are three exercises you can do regularly to help you learn more about your true self and build confidence!

  1. Take Internal Inventory Of Your Values, Beliefs, And Desires

Everyone has a personality but may not know exactly what that personality is comprised of. Take some time to sit down with a journal and some pen and paper and find out more about your true self. What do you believe in? What are your values? What do you want out of life? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Learning more about every aspect of your true self will take time, but it is possible.

  1. Turn Your Purpose Into Action

We all have beliefs and reasons for doing things, but we will often put ourselves on the back burner in order to survive. Once you have a better idea of your true self and what you want, take action. Take small steps each day to bring you closer to your goals. Everything worth fighting for takes a lot of effort, and you are worth it!

  1. Repeat Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations have become fairly popular in recent years and for a good reason. These daily affirmations help to boost your confidence and make you feel as though you can accomplish what you want. There are plenty of suggestions around the web, but you can also make some of your own as needed.

No Matter What You've Experienced, You Can Develop A Strong Sense Of Self.

Life is an interesting journey, and we, as human beings, are always changing and evolving. As you work towards either strengthening or gaining a stronger sense of your true self, believing in your true self, knowing how to decline certain offers, and taking up hobbies and alone time will serve you very well. However, we cannot always do it all on our own, and that is more than alright. Knowing when to seek out help from others is very good. This conveys strength and initiative.

If you or a loved one are ever in need of additional help or guidance throughout your journey of discovering your true self, BetterHelp can help provide support. Our trained and talented team of social workers, counselors, and therapists are here to assist you as you gain a stronger idea of your true self. Additionally, online therapy gives you the opportunity to skip the office and get help on your own schedule from licensed therapists who have received valuable feedback from their clients.

How Therapy Can Help You On Your Journey

If you’ve decided to discover more about your true self, you don’t have to do it alone. A therapist can help guide you and provide support on your personal journey of discovering your true self. A therapist may also be able to help you find a support group if you are interested in meeting other individuals who are on their own journey of discovering who their true self. 

Counselor Reviews

"Marysue has been a great support to my path of self-discovery and healing. She is kind, patient, professional, and above all, a pleasant human being that cares. Thank you."

"I can not express how much Cindi has helped me in the past few weeks that I have had her as my counselor. She's helped me understand more about my conditions, helped me settle some things from my past, and has given me brilliant coping techniques that I will use in the future. I've been to many psychiatrists, but no one has ever been as wise, caring, or considerate as Cindi. She's helped me realize things about myself that I have never known. Cindi, if you ever read this, thank you so much for everything you do. You're amazing."


Discovering your true self and building self-confidence will take time and energy to acquire, but the results will be more than worth the time spent. With confidence in your abilities, a strong direction, and valuable life goals, you will be unstoppable in your life, actions, and beliefs!

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