What is a healthy sense of self?

Self-confidence, Self-love, Self-worth . . . you need all these to have a good life, right? But what if you no longer have any connection with your sense of SELF at all?

What if you have no idea how your “Self” actually feels, who your Self actually is . . . and who you are as a person?

Not long ago, I developed the concept of Healthy Sense of Self . . . What is a healthy sense of self?

Well, first you have to feel your Self again before you can develop and experience all those things that are Self-related.

So many people struggle with this concept! It’s very common in today’s modern world. But you may not be at all aware of is that this lack of Sense of Self is the very thing that prevents you from enjoying your life and living up to your full potential.

Let’s just start at the very beginning: your childhood and how you grew up. This includes your parents/caregivers, boyfriends/girlfriends (and their parents), your teachers, uncles, aunts, grandfathers, grandmothers, etc.

All these people made an impact on your life . . .  and a blueprint of how (they think) your life should look. 

As a child, you were very open to everything that comes your way. You were a kind of sponge that soaked up all the feedback and everything “grown-ups” said to you. What they said ruled and was regarded as the ultimate truth.

And there’s one more thing you may be incorporating even in a deeper way than what they say . . . That is what they DO or DON’T DO!

When you grow up, the only thing that matters is the way they allow you to develop. Were you allowed to be yourself at home at all times? Of course, every single person knows the rules and customs they grew up with. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it hasn’t limited your way of Being You.

I’ll give you an example. My mother was a good person, but she had never learned how to love unconditionally. You can imagine that, for a child, this can cause a lot of confusion. I seemed to never do well enough, I never got a compliment or always had to fish for it, and negativity was projected onto me on a regular basis. Because of this, I developed a Hidden Goal and Hidden Agendas.

Everything I did I didn’t really do for myself; I did it to get the approval that made me “Feel-good-about-myself”  . . . not something that allowed me to BE good no matter what.

My (Hidden) Purpose was to receive my mother’s approval.

I did everything for that! And realizing that through whatever I did or wanted in a perfect way, that was my Hidden Agenda: Cleaning the kitchen – If I do that well she will appreciate me; washing my father’s car-  if I surprise him by doing that then I make him happy; folding laundry – if I do that then she will be proud of me.

My hidden agenda kept getting fuller and fuller, but my hidden goal was never achieved . . . So I kept doing things to perform in exchange for approval because then I felt good about myself.

And this compulsive performance, so to speak, manifested itself as I grew older in a (young) adult whose quality of life was based entirely on someone’s approval!

I developed an unhealthy form of perfectionism, in combination with fear of failure and the urge to perform. My mother was always very pleased with people who could make beautiful music. So I had to and would pass the conservatory (then she would be proud of me).

I practiced like a madwoman!

While many of my classmates seemed to dance through it quite easily, I spent hours and hours studying music pieces and sometimes rehearsed till I had blisters on my fingers. And with success! I graduated, joined the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and played in several small ensembles! And do you think my hidden goal was achieved?

Did I get the approval I was so looking for? Of course not! She didn’t do that on purpose, my mother, she just COULD not do it . . . But I only found that out later!

As you get older, you leave home, you fall in love, get married, have children, and do the things that you can do with your life . . .

Only if your foundation of life is “Approval from others,” instead of being completely Your Self, you move further and further away from the person you really are. This way your quality of life depends forever on what others think and say.

Even if your parents are no longer alive, that urge for approval is so ingrained in your way of BEING that you cannot help but rely on validation and praise from other people.

  • You have never learned what self-confidence is, let alone how to develop it.
  • You never learned what self-love is because no one was able to show you that when you were little.
  • You never learned how to be self-confident because that never came up in your childhood.

Of course, there are times when you feel pretty good about yourself. Because you know how to get this feeling. Perhaps you have no doubts at all about the things you do because you think you know for sure that these things will get you what you “need” (approval).

So that you can earn your dose of “Feeling- good-about-yourself” again. So, you go all out for that and you probably got really good at it because you worked so hard on developing your skills this way!

You work very hard during your whole life! But for who? WAS if FOR YOURSELF? You may as well ask yourself that, if you’re still able to feel any of it: “Is this what I want?”.

So, that was the question I finally started to ask myself during all those nights when I couldn’t get to sleep, whenever I was unable to score by being applauded for my musical performances, all those times I yelled at my daughter because she had a belly ache and I no longer had any patience and all those times when I ended up having a terrible argument with my husband because I couldn’t bear anything . . . And always that little voice of my mother in my head that I was never good enough! (Also known as the Internalized Parental Voice.)

This HAD TO STOP! So because I was good at tackling things (wanting to perform isn’t always a bad quality, you just have to want to do it for yourself), I finally got my teeth into something that served MY SELF.

For years I dove deep into myself, I started to document everything I found out. All the old pain came up and step by step I learned to understand what had been deeply embedded in me all this time.

WHY did I do WHAT I did, felt what I felt, and was who I was! I needed to know . . . what is a healthy sense of self???

Through various exercises, conversations, and self-examination . . .  I gradually established a true connection with myself. It was a connection that I did not know existed!  I was so stuck in the addiction to outside approval that I hadn’t REALLY felt my body for years.

If you start making choices and decisions based on the healthy relationship you have with yourself, instead of every decision depending on input from outside, you really FEEL that you are ALIVE! 

If you can feel this way, then you are experiencing a Healthy Sense of Self.

I wish this feeling for you.

What I don’t wish for you is the years of study that I had to go through myself to find out all of this. That’s why based on all that documentation over all those years, I wrote several books and created valuable online training. So that you, in just a few months,  lay the foundation to find, develop, or restore your own Sense of Self!

Because you only have one life, make sure (now finally) that it really belongs to YOU!

Now you know the answer to the question: What is a Healthy Sense of Self?

Much love,

Antoinetta

P.S. Here’s a lovely guided meditation from Synctuition for you. Go within and be with your Self today! 

guided meditation

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