Sense of self is a person’s perception of their identity (1). This involves several factors, such as respected boundaries and a sense of purpose and contribution, which refers to a person’s feeling of achieving something meaningful to themselves and society (2,3). A further aspect is awareness and realisation of values (4). Sense of self is also shaped by a person’s self-satisfaction, forming self-worth (5) and self-power, which refers to a perceived control over outcomes (6).
The different aspects of a sense of self (including self-power and respected boundaries, sense of contribution and purpose, sense of self-worth and belonging, body image, living by values) are protective factors for mental health. Having a sense of contribution has been associated with lower psychological distress (3). Living by values has been suggested to predict life satisfaction and mental health. A further important aspect is a person maintaining physical and emotional boundaries, or limits between a person and others (7). Boundaries are an important aspect of self-care and not setting personal boundaries may lead to psychological distress (7). Low self-esteem has been associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation (8,9). Lastly, people with a sense of power are more confident pursuing objectives and are more proactive during treatment (10). In women with fatigue, a higher sense of power was associated with lower depression (11).
1. American Psychological Association. Sense of self – APA Dictionary of Psychology [Internet]. [cited 2021 Jan 12]. Available from: https://dictionary.apa.org/sense-of-self
2. Damon W, Menon J, Bronk KC. The development of purpose during adolescence. Appl Dev Sci [Internet]. 2003 Jul 1 [cited 2021 Jan 14];7(3):119–28. Available from: /record/2003-06094-002
3. Ozaki K, Motohashi Y, Kaneko Y, Fujita K. Association between psychological distress and a sense of contribution to society in the workplace. BMC Public Health. 2012 Apr 1;12.
4. Ostermann M, Huffziger S, Kleindienst N, Mata J, Schmahl C, Beierlein C, et al. Realization of personal values predicts mental health and satisfaction with life in a German population. J Soc Clin Psychol [Internet]. 2017 Oct 1 [cited 2021 Jan 14];36(8):651–74. Available from: https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2017.36.8.651
5. Harter S, Waters P, Whitesell NR. Relational self-worth: Differences in perceived worth as a person across interpersonal contexts among adolescents. Child Dev [Internet]. 1998 Jun 1 [cited 2021 Jan 14];69(3):756–66. Available from: https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06241.x
6. Haines EL, Kray LJ. Self-power associations: the possession of power impacts women’s self-concepts. Eur J Soc Psychol [Internet]. 2005 Sep 1 [cited 2021 Jan 14];35(5):643–62. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/ejsp.252
7. Selva J. How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 10 Examples + PDF Worksheets [Internet]. PositivePsychology. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 14]. Available from: https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/
8. Sowislo JF, Orth U. Does low self-esteem predict depression and anxiety? A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychol Bull [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2021 Feb 4];139(1):213–40. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22730921/
9. McGee R, Williams S, Nada-Raja S. Low self-esteem and hopelessness in childhood and suicidal ideation in early adulthood. J Abnorm Child Psychol [Internet]. 2001 [cited 2021 Feb 4];29(4):281–91. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11523834/
10. Corrigan PW, Larson JE, Rüsch N. Self-stigma and the “why try” effect: Impact on life goals and evidence-based practices. World Psychiatry [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2021 Jan 28];8(2):75–81. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC2694098/?report=abstract
11. Dzurec LC, Hoover PM, Fields J. Acknowledging unexplained fatigue of tired women. J Nurs Scholarsh [Internet]. 2002 [cited 2021 Feb 4];34(1):41–6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11901966/