Our sense of self has a lot to do with how we see our place in the world, in the universe. And our sense of our place in the greater scheme of things has a lot to do with our spiritual beliefs and our picture of the structure of the cosmos and the powers within it. So, by extension, our sense of self has a lot to do with our spiritual beliefs. In effect, the things you choose to believe in get to tell you who you are.
That’s an interesting conclusion for those of us who don’t believe in beings. Though I have a spiritual life, it’s centered on my own spirit, and the forces I believe in most are the forces in my own mind and soul which I seek to learn to bend to the goal of making myself a better, more effective human being. So, essentially, my spiritual path tells me that I can be whoever I want to be.
This comes, of course, with some interesting side beliefs. If I can be whoever I want to be, if there is no all-seeing being out there assessing me and offering up status reports, then the evaluation of how well I’m doing on the quest to be “better” is up to me alone. The rules for what is acceptable and what needs to be changed about my life falls to me and the people around me to determine. I get to place the power of authority where I feel it belongs. Punishment for failure won’t wait until I’m dead, it will be meted out in this life only.
In short, my sense of self and self-worth gets to be measured on more mundane scales, and the honesty of my self-assessment becomes a key factor in how well my spiritual pursuits work out for me. Again, the things you choose to believe in get to tell you who you are. If you are honest with yourself, the self you believe in will paint you an accurate picture of who you are and who you can become. If you are less than honest with yourself, the self you believe in is more likely to tell you that you’re fine the way you are and everyone else just needs to deal with it.