A healthy concept of Self is the baseline for good mental health. It is also what helps us learn self-reliability and self-responsibility, and supports self-trust. A healthy concept of self leads us to a place of knowing we are our number one priority, and that priority includes our own well-being and that of others around us. It takes away the weight of responsibility through blame and includes others in our compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. Our humanity is shared via the fact that we can love others and make mistakes at the same time.
This idea of a healthy self-concept is talked about extensively in psychology literature, albeit my personal favorite, and what I see reflected in my work with others is Carl Jung’s theory of Self and the concept of self-realization. In the words of Carl Jung: “Only the real self has the power to heal”. Self-realization is what true healing is all about, a reconnection with the self. A healthy relationship with ourselves.
The individuality of self-realizations is attainable only through a healthy conceptualization of self-esteem, self-love, self-compassion, self-kindness, and above all, self-forgiveness. This is also what I base my work on with others as well — the relationship with Self comes in first place above all else. You need to trust unconditionally that your heart will keep beating and your lungs will keep breathing and your life will keep on being lived by your own self. And that leads us straight to the vulnerability of being self-responsible. By taking responsibility for our own happiness, health and how we relate to others, we become self-reliable — we can trust ourselves knowing we are doing a good job in this we call living.
A healthy concept of self is the baseline for mental health because it supports the notion of a friendly, not-going-to-turn-on-me mind. It supports the idea that it is possible to recover from heartbreak and trauma and be well. If Gabor Maté is right, and all mental illness has its root in trauma, then all mental illness is healable. Not diverging greatly from the topic here… the concept of healing is only possible with a strong and healthy sense of self-esteem. If you can’t trust yourself for your own healing, you can stay 20 years in therapy with nothing changing whatsoever.
I see the growth in my clients when they move from a place of self-doubt to a place of empowerment — self-reliable, self-responsible, and self-loving. It’s quite an incredible transformation in front of my eyes, with weekly enormous breakthroughs.
So… what does it really take to have a healthy sense of Self? To move towards realizing the self in a healthy, safe way?
- Self-trust and being reliable towards one’s self. That means following through with promises and compromises, building a self-care routine, and not staying in toxic relationships — with friends, lovers, or even family. And to try and heal what is possible to heal in those relationships, but also accept that things change and people have their own limitations.
- A healthy notion of health. We all come from a place of love, a place of unconditional acceptance of self and others, otherwise, we couldn’t bare the notion of being living. We all come from health, our hearts beat, our lungs breathe, our brains think, our bodies move and we are able to have sensations, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This is the baseline of healthy homeostasis. When that is unbalanced, one or the other, it will bring imbalances to one of the other.
- Not abandoning ourselves. This is probably one of the hardest. We keep thinking that coming from a place of love is also unconditional acceptance. But, unconditional love is all about healing the conditions we put in front of loving others, not acceptance of bad behavior. We ignore red flags on purpose. We abandon our own views and promises in order to fulfill desires and wishes that may not be congruent to what we actually want, wish, and dream for ourselves.
- The one and only “Know thyself”. Knowing ourselves, who we really are, in our depths, our strengths, weaknesses, dreams, wishes, wants and desires, interests, and what we do to please others and the opinions of others is so-important-it-hurts. That is why a lot of people refuse to look at themselves deeply because it hurts. Doing an honest self-assessment of your life, and the source of your unhappiness, what lays in the ground of what you planted for your life but is not quite how it was supposed to be? What dreams come to the surface when you’re honest with yourself about who you really are and what you really want?
- Self-responsibility. Taking responsibility for our own actions is just the starting point. We also need to take responsibility for our own happiness. This is because, no one else can create our own happiness for us, although we can share and be happy with others. We will only truly know how to do the latter when we understand the following: we are the only ones who can create our own happiness. And this self-assessment of our own happiness comes with a previous understanding of who we are, what we want out of life, and the ability to forgive ourselves for making past mistakes.
- Self-honesty. Or Radical Honesty. The creator of radical honesty explains that the idea behind it is that you think you get what you want by diverging from honesty, but in fact, you’re only creating more problems. When it comes from a lack of honesty, it also comes from a lack of authenticity, so you’re building a castle of lies, instead of a rock-solid foundation to be proud of in the future. To be radically honest about ourselves and what we are in a relationship within our lives is to understand that deep in its core, self-honesty is authenticity and being able to manifest our true dreams into reality.
Last but not least…
7. Self-love. Having a healthy sense of self-esteem builds an honest, reliable, compassionate, and affectionate relationship with our own selves. From there, we begin to understand that we deserve a lot better than what we allow in our lives. The toxicity starts dissipating and our lives are actually transformed for the better. All it takes is to start by building a healthy sense of self-esteem, and from there move on to actual love. And self-esteem begins with self-acceptance and self-compassion. Being kind to ourselves, being our own friends, and accepting ourselves for who we are. Warts and all.
Concluding this essay, I have to say I’ve been also learning all this in my personal life. To build a rock-solid foundation for manifesting my actual dreams into reality, to learn how to make choices based on self-love and not from fear of what can go wrong, to forgive those who harmed me, to forgive those who didn’t, and to forgive myself for making mistakes, is by far the most self-responsible phase in my life. Is coming into adulthood without losing hope for the future, this childlike spirit of kindness and fun, and building a tomorrow that I’m proud of.
Great day to all. Blessed be.