Master the 7 Selfs to Master Life
As someone who is deeply self-reflective and self-aware (at least most times), I have dedicated myself to studying personal development and personal growth. I have come to believe after much soul-searching and studying that you need to master the 7 ‘selfs’ — self-awareness, self-image, self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, self-respect, and self-love to truly master life. Even if you are living with purpose and meaning, without these selfs, you cannot enjoy life to the fullest. Let’s take a look at each one below.
1. Self Awareness
To be self-aware means, to not be on auto-pilot in life. That is you are consciously aware of your character and actions, both the light and shadow aspects of yourself. Remember we all have light and shadow. Even if you don’t accept your shadow side, you should be aware of it. This is self-awareness. This shadow side could be repressed anger, sexual desires, quirks in your personality, etc, etc. Without self-awareness, you can’t ‘know thyself’ as the ancient saying goes.
Professionals like psychologists and counselors can assist you in becoming more self-aware, but ultimately it’s up to you who needs to awaken this trait. All of our relationships in life (family, intimate, friendship, work) help in building self-awareness. Spending time in solitude and reflection are great ways of nurturing self-awareness along with practices like journaling and meditation.
How self-aware are you of your light and shadow?
Do you make time for quiet reflection and solitude in your life?
Dr. Maxwell Maltz in his classic bestselling self-help book — Psycho-Cybernetics identified the self-image as the main factor in shaping one’s destiny. According to Maltz, we have two self-images. The one we see when we look in the mirror and the inner one/hidden one. He believed that the inner self-image was the more important one as it shapes our lives. This self-image is what you think about yourself and what you tell yourself about what and who you are.
Many psychologists believe that the prime cause of success or failure in a person’s life is, in fact, this hidden self-image. A strong healthy self-image generally leads to a happier and satisfying life while a poor self-image leads to a lower quality of life.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
What do you see when you look inside?
How can you improve your self-image?
The word esteem means to like, admire, hold in high regard. It’s often easy to do this for others, but self-esteem is the ability to do this for yourself: to like, admire, and value ‘You’. What other people say might be hurtful and even cruel at times, but it shouldn’t take away your self-esteem. At the core, you should see yourself as a likable and worthwhile person.
Self-esteem has a lot to do with resilience and your sense of achievement. The former being the ability to bounce back no matter what life throws at you. The latter being about setting and pursuing worthwhile goals that stretch you as a person.
On a scale of 1–10, how do you regard yourself? (0 being low and 10 being high)
Do you have worthwhile goals that inspire you?
Are you satisfied with your level of achievement in the different areas of your life?
Self-worth is tied up with how you perceive yourself compared to others, for instance in terms of skills, wealth, attractiveness and so on. Many people feel worthy through things like certain achievements, living a particular lifestyle, having a certain partner, and making a certain amount of money. These can all be taken away which means that so will your self-worth. True self-worth should never be based on the perishables of life, but rather on the imperishables like your worth as a human being, and who you are as a person.
Remember if you compare yourself with others you risk becoming vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser people than yourself.
Is your self-worth based on your work, finances, lifestyle, etc?
If yes, what can you do to start changing it?
What type of person have you become as a result of your goals?
What do you give others? (your essence, presence)
Self-confidence is trusting in your own abilities, qualities, and judgment. Self-confident people don’t let fear hold them back. Rather they use it as a motivator to drive them, whether its exploring unknown territory, standing up for what they believe in, or asking someone on a date. It should never be confused with arrogance and inflated ego. It’s faith in who you are. It can be associated with competence, but people can be competent but not confident, confident but not competent.
How self-confident are you in your abilities, qualities & judgment?
When was the last time you showed self-confidence?
Is there a current issue in your life that demands self-confidence?
Self-respect is unconditional and independent of how others view you, or any mistakes you might have made. It is accepting yourself just as you are, as opposed to self-esteem, which is dependant on liking yourself. Liking yourself often needs the judgment of whether you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Through self-respect, you still respect who you are by accepting and forgiving yourself. When you respect yourself you strive to be a better person. Research shows that people who respect themselves are less likely to engage in promiscuous behavior, illegal drugs, and crime.
Do you accept yourself just as you are?
Have you forgiven yourself for past and present mistakes?
Do you strive to create a better you?
Perhaps the most controversial and misunderstood of the selfs is self-love. It shouldn’t be confused with vanity and self-indulgence. Self-love is a deep appreciation of who you are as a person or to be spiritual as a soul. life. An old Chinese proverb states, ‘’You can’t give from an empty bowl.’’ This sums up self-love perfectly. You cannot give what you don’t have. It is incredibly difficult to give love to others when you don't have it for yourself. How you treat others is a mirror reflection of how you treat yourself.
How do express love to others?
How do you express love to yourself?
Human accomplishment and personal well-being are greatly enhanced through the mastery of these selfs. Remember you cant master them all at once. Not even a psychologist could. They are a lifetime’s work and can't be rushed. Consider choosing one or two selfs to work on per year. With commitment and consistency, you will see results.
P.S Through mastering the selfs, you are putting your rocks in before the sand (creating a stable foundation).