Your sense of self is essentially your self-image. Having a “strong sense of self” is simply knowing who you truly are and what you stand for, according to holistic psychotherapist Sonia Fregoso, LMFT. It starts by evaluating and concretizing qualities like your convictions, values, wants, needs, desires, principles, truths, beliefs, behaviors, roles, likes, dislikes, etc.
“Having a sense of self is vital to our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It becomes our internal compass for every interaction with others,” she says. “Your sense of self tells you what boundaries you need to place with others and [how to] make decisions that will serve you. It also enables you to reflect on the things that don’t serve you and evolves to help you survive, adapt, and ultimately thrive.”
Think of it like this: Your sense of self functions as your bouncer, reminding you of your higher purpose. You’ll feel OK releasing what’s not right for you because you know you are energetically clearing space for the paths you are genuinely destined for. It easily centers what’s authentically best for you, helping you navigate various complex situations.
“This knowing of yourself includes all of your identities, beliefs, values, traits, and intersections of these concepts,” Fregoso says. She notes that other people will inevitably affect the way you view yourself, but ultimately it is an internal process. “That’s not to say that our sense of self does not come from external input. Some of it does. But for the most part, our sense of self comes from our definition and view of ourselves. Only you can define who you are.”