Knowing yourself is an important step to achieving happiness and peace in life. But knowing one’s self isn’t as easy as it looks.
Self-knowledge is important for one central reason: because it offers us a route to greater happiness and self-fulfillment. When we lack self-knowledge and a deeper understanding of one’s self, we tend to make decisions that are not in tune with our authentic selves and this is what causes problems in life.
A lack of self-knowledge usually is a result of never questioning one’s own beliefs and ideas. These beliefs and ideas would have been passed on by our parents, our social group or the society we live in. A lack of self-knowledge leaves you open to accidents and mistaken ambitions.
Here are a few areas of life where self-knowledge plays a critical role.
Without self-knowledge, all sorts of problems may occur when it comes to our relationships.
A lot of times, we tend to get together with a romantic partner because of physical attraction. It’s fun and happy at the start, but as weeks and months pass, this is where the problems begin if we do not have a strong sense of self.
We try to get together with people who don’t really suit us because we don’t understand our needs. When first looking out for a partner, the requirements we come up with are colored often by non-specific sentimental vagueness. We look for someone who checks the lists that we’ve made for ourselves and when he or she acts outside of the checklist we have come up with, without proper self-knowledge, this is where the relationship can start having problems.
A lot of actions, habits, and thoughts that we bring into our adult relationships begin or stem from our childhood relationships. We believe we seek happiness in love, but it’s not quite that simple.
Without knowing it, what at times it seems we actually seek is familiarity. We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood.
Society has made it a norm to only give us a few short years to come up with an answer as to what it is we want to pursue in life. After college, we are expected to already have studied a course that is related to what our profession will be once we graduate.
We immediately have to take on a job in order to have enough money to pay the bills and survive the “real world.” This is also another status quo by society wherein we immediately have to start working to have enough money to survive and appease society’s demands for our productivity.
Without deep self-knowledge, we are too vague about our ambitions. We don’t know what to do with our lives and – because money tends to be such an urgent priority, we get any job that we can. This is why so many people feel stuck in jobs that they hate. They complain about Mondays and always look forward to Fridays and the weekend.
Months and years pass by and all there is to show for it is a deep sense of a life half-lived.
Without deep self-knowledge and self-awareness, what we spend money on will only be materialistic things that we think would bring us true happiness.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t purchase material things and services, but by knowing the self, we understand what essentials we need and what will truly make us happy. We use money as a tool towards true happiness instead of seeing money and material possessions as the ultimate goal.
Now that we know, the areas in life that need self-awareness and how greatly they impact our happiness and fulfillment, let’s understand more about how we can get to know ourselves even better.
How well do you really know yourself?
We are all aware of the things that society wants us to do, or the people our families want us to be. It’s easy to get caught up in these things and as a result, we lose touch with who we truly are – our authentic selves.
Daily reflection and meditation can help cultivate a deeper understanding of our identity and personality. Through consistent practice of meditation and mindfulness, we can build on these discoveries to create a deep and meaningful relationship with ourselves.
Here are other helpful steps you can take to get to understand the self even better:
Firstly, let’s look at understanding your core personality. You can do so by being honest and open with yourself.
Let’s start by asking the following questions:
When you answer these questions without judgement, reflecting on the positive and outlining the areas for improvement.
When we think about self-knowledge, it’s easy to focus on the psychological and sometimes we forget about the physical aspect of understanding ourselves. Getting to know your body is just as important as getting to know your mind.
Learning to listen to your body unlocks our intuition – we all have access to this ‘sixth-sense’, however we lose it if we are not connected to and paying attention to what our bodies feel like and need.
There are many different practices that can help you get back into your body – you can read more about the one tool I use – Yin Yoga – right here.
What matters to you most in life?
Do you value family? Relationships? Honesty? Integrity? Freedom?
Think about the values that you live by and firmly believe in. You can learn even more about yourself if you spend some time thinking about how and when these values developed.
Try to dig deep and see if your parents modeled them for you, or did your values evolve in opposition to what you saw when you were growing up?
Making it a habit to journal everyday is a great way to boost your self-knowledge. If you write in a journal every day, self-reflection becomes your default. Here are ways to make the most out of your journaling in order to strengthen your self- awareness.
Getting to know yourself is all about developing a real picture of who you are, including the parts you are proud of and the parts that you struggle with from time to time. Conduct an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, starting with your strengths. Think about what you like about yourself, and also which parts of yourself consistently elicit the most positive feedback.
Knowing yourself means recognizing different parts of your identity. This is not to judge yourself but to open up to the possibility of learning new things.
When you evaluate yourself, pay attention to the things that make you feel uncomfortable. With curiosity, observe your thoughts, feelings, and habits. These emotional signals can tell you if you are trying to avoid a subject or if you gravitate towards a certain subject.
By understanding ourselves on a deeper level, we get to live a more authentic, fulfilling life and happier lives.