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

By Nicola Kirkpatrick

Updated July 29, 2019

Reviewer Tanya Harell

A Strong Sense Of Self Helps Us Be More Confident in Life - Get Started Today
Click Here To Get Matched With A Licensed Counselor


A strong sense of self is vital, especially in current times. With so many external influences and variables, a robust sense of self is what keeps individuals grounded and on the right course. But how does one go about gaining a strong sense of self? More importantly, what is a strong sense of self?

A sense of self is defined as one's perception of oneself. Each person's sense of self is directly related to how they feel about themselves, their levels of self-esteem, and 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.

Believe in Yourself!

The Huffington Post cites self-belief as the number one way of attaining a strong sense of self. Self-belief is the defining factor of a strong sense of self. It is critical for each 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.

Self-belief is something that comes with 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 naysayers. Not all criticism is bad criticism, although some people in life will resent you for your opinions, beliefs, goals, and actions. Whether that resentment is rooted in intimidation or poor self-esteem on their end is immaterial, but resentful, petty people will often work to discourage you or throw you off track.


This pivotal moment is when the importance of a strong sense of self-comes into play. A person who struggles with believing in themselves may fall victim to outside assertions against them, whereas a confident, self-assured individual will find the inner strength to continue pressing forward, fighting the good fight, and stay on course.

A strong sense of self is first acquired by self-belief because confidence in oneself is powerful enough to overcome all kinds of hardships, struggles, and obstacles which will inevitably present themselves at one point or another. Individuals who know who they are and love who they will be equipped to handle challenges and difficulties. Self-belief also produces hope and breeds positive self-fulfilling prophecies. 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 certain people, situations, and requests down 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 and self-destructive. It also causes the individual to lose sight of who he or she is as the pursue the hopeless endeavor of attempting to do it all.

Not only does the ability to say no avoid feelings of overwhelment or burnout, but it also helps each to learn more about whom he or she is. For example, a working parent is likely to have many demands and obligation. 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 healthily busy schedule and well-roundness can be fruitful and beneficial, they can easily turn toxic if taken to the extreme.

For instance, imagine the aforesaid working parent is asked to catch a flight to New York for a three-hour business meeting on a Wednesday. But, wait! Wednesday is the day of their son's soccer game. At this point, the parent is now faced with one of three choices. They can either attend the business meeting and skip their child's soccer game; appear at the soccer game and pass on the business meeting, or the parent can attempt to squeeze in both events.

A Strong Sense Of Self Helps Us Be More Confident in Life - Get Started Today
Click Here To Get Matched With A Licensed Counselor


Each of these options comes with their own set of consequences. Attending the business meeting and passing on the child's soccer game may hurt the feelings of the boy who is looking forward to his parent being there. Likewise, appearing at the soccer game while skipping the New York business meeting may make the parent's child happy, yet irritate colleagues and the parent's employer. Attempting both endeavors could work, but after awhile, if the parent continues to push themselves and say yes to everything or everyone, they will eventually burn out or experience other undesirable results.

Knowing when to say no is paramount to having and gaining a strong sense of self. It provides boundaries and helps each understand what is most important to them. 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 no one person can always say yes. Limits and boundaries are good for the mind.

Develop Your Hobbies and Interests!

Skilled At Life notes hobbies and interests as 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. Knowledge of self is critical to the perception of oneself. After all, how can you know who you are if you don't know what you enjoy doing in your spare time?


Hobbies are also great activities which can help you meet like-minded people who share similar interests. This too helps one gain a strong sense of self. Friends, associates, and other people with whom you share time with have a tremendous impact on how you do in life and how you view yourself. The age-old old saying "you are as good as the company you keep" remains truer than ever.

As you work to boost your self of sense, ask yourself 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, practice it regularly, take a related class, and network with people who also enjoy your favorite activities.

Take Some Time for Yourself!

Believing in yourself, knowing how and when to say no, and discovering your hobbies are all excellent ways to understand and gain a strong sense of self. However, one of the least commonly discussed, yet ironically obvious ways to gaining a good perception of oneself are having some periodic 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 one's sense of identity as an individual.


Taking time for yourself 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 for yourself remains entirely up to you. However, getting a healthy dosage of solitude allows for self-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.

A Final Word

Life is an interesting journey, and we as human beings are always changing and hopefully evolving. As you work towards either strengthening or gaining a strong sense of self, believing in who you are, 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, which are both critical elements of keen self-perception.

If you or a loved one are ever in need of additional help or guidance throughout your journey of self-discovery, please do not hesitate to reach out to BetterHelp. Our trained and talented team of social workers, counselors, and therapists are here to assist you as you gain a stronger sense of self and identity.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. BetterHelp exists as one of many options for consideration. Hopefully, you learned a bit about the power of self-perception and how to better discover who you are. Each's sense of self greatly impacts their quality of life.

If and when you feel inspired to connect with BetterHelp, you can do so by clicking here.

Previous Article

Time Heals All Wounds – Or Does It?

Next Article

Defining Locus Of Control: What It Is And Why It Matters
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Counselor Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.