A Self-Sustaining Core

In order to survive the worst a relationships–or lack of relationship–can throw at you, you need one thing above all else: A self-sustaining core.

By that I mean you have to know yourself well enough to understand that things will be okay, that they’ll get better, and that, despite what your negative self may be trying to tell you, you’re worth the effort of trying to keep on keeping on.

That idea of a self-sustaining core comes from having three things: Self-confidence, Self-knowledge, and Solid goals. The good news is, these three things are quite interrelated.


Self-confidence is, perhaps, the greatest asset you have. It’s also one of the easiest to deplete early on. Sometimes, it gets more than depleted–the well that supplies its regular flow gets poisoned.

That happens when others tell you–either directly or indirectly–that you’re not good enough, you’re not worth their time, or that anything you do is, at best, second rate. These are not people who offer constructive criticism with the goal of helping you out, they are the ones who simply dismiss you or, worse, actively seek to destroy you.

Being inundated with people like this for any length of time can shake even the most solid foundations of self-confidence. It’s even worse if there’s actual evidence–like a recently failed project or relationship–for your negative self to latch on to as justification for their overly-critical view.

Without self-confidence, the center of your microcosm just won’t hold. You’ll constantly play down our talents and play up your shortcomings. You’ll not bother trying because you don’t see the point in wasting everyone’s time. You won’t speak up because, hey, what you have to say won’t be listened to anyway.

With self-confidence, your core is strong and can hold against adversity. Being confident in yourself gives you a set of roots and a solid foundation on which to build everything else.


The more you know about yourself, the harder it’s going to be for anyone else to tear you apart or otherwise damage your self-confidence. Just as importantly, if you know yourself well, you can tell the difference between a legitimate worry and something being dredged up by your negative self in order to sabotage what you’re trying to do.

Self-knowledge includes being aware of your patterns, your likes, your hopes, your fears, and more. It lets you realize that, yes, things may be bad, but they’ve been bad before, and you’ve always bounced back.

You gain it from our experiences and from actively seeking it out. It comes from within you, no one’s going to give it to you (they can try, but it won’t stick until you’re ready to buy into it). When well-stocked and maintained, it’s self-knowledge that lets you recover any fallen self-esteem.

Solid Goals

All the self-esteem and self-knowledge in the world won’t get you far unless you have a target to direct it at. That’s where solid goals come in. Without them, you wander about, wasting time and energy.

Solid goals don’t have to be excruciatingly specific things–like “I want to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar widget company.” They can be much more general, along the lines of “I want to be successful in my chosen career” or “I want enough money to live comfortably and enough prestige to be looked up to by others.”

Very specific goals work well for some, giving them something to focus all of the energy on, giving them a clear set of milestones by which they can measure their progress. Others go the more general route, instead trusting their gut and other perceptions to gauge how far toward their goal they are.

Try both ways, one will work best for you, one will feel most comfortable. And when you find that way, your self-esteem will soar and your self-knowledge will increase exponentially as you approach your goals. And, if when things go bad, you’ll be able to focus on the next goal on your list, inching your way away from the failure and toward a new success.

The Self-Sustaining Core

These aren’t the only components that will help you put together a self-sustaining core to carry you through rough times. They are, however, ones that I know from personal experience will work quite well.

Together, the combination of internalized support (self-confidence), logical fuel (self-knowledge), and clear direction (solid goals) create an engine that will sustain itself–and you–through any hard times.

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