Do you think the close friends I had when I was 17 would have helped me develop this strong sense of self? In most cases it is not our friends who will encourage and push us. It is not that our friends are trying to hurt us; it is just that, as much as they like us, they may not want us to change. For example, my friend at the time liked being around people who looked up to him, and he avoided people who looked down on him. If I had changed then, the dynamic between us would have changed (and it eventually did, when I changed). People around you may want a certain level of control over their relationship with you in your career and life, and they want whatever makes them look and feel the best. While they may like it if you do well, their doing well is their priority. Please understand this: If you have a strong sense of self, this will alter the power balance in your relationships with many people around you. This is why so many people never change and reach their full potential.
Many children develop a strong sense of self starting from the moment they are born, from their parents, who encourage them and help push them to do better and better. But it is not just parents who help us develop a strong sense of self. A strong sense of self comes from many areas in our lives and from the feedback we receive from the world:
- Our Recognized Abilities Give Us a Sense of Self - If we are very intelligent and test well, we may feel smart, and this may contribute to a strong sense of self. If we are considered interesting or funny by others, or have been called industrious, inventive, and so forth, this may contribute to a strong sense of self.
- Our Various Affiliations Give Us a Sense of Self - We may be members of a certain sports team, college, or other group that is interested in particular things.
- Our Religion Gives Us a Sense of Self - If we are members of a certain religious group, this will give us a sense of self related to the religion.
- Our Social Standing and Relationships Give Us a Sense of Self - We have a sense of self based on the people we are friends with and how we are regarded by others.
- Our Occupation Gives Us a Sense of Self - Our jobs and what we do for a living give us a sense of self.
- Our Families and Family Relationships Give Us a Sense of Self - Our wives or husbands, our parents and other relatives, all contribute to our sense of self.
- Our Past Gives Us a Sense of Self - Things that have happened to us in the past and things that people may have said about us in the past may contribute to our sense of self.