*Part of the Identity Series*
This is a new concept for me. In school, we weren’t exactly encouraged to get to know ourselves. We developed maths skills, writing skills, and science skills; we even got shown some things about people skills, but what about the importance of gaining knowledge and insights about yourself?
The importance of knowing yourself
Knowledge is power. Knowing yourself is strength. Knowing yourself brings confidence and authenticity.
Just like with people, you must first know yourself to be able to trust and love yourself; three things that I see as the pillars of self-actualisation.
If you want a healthy, happy life, you must first know yourself. If you want to be strong, free, and authentic, you must first know yourself.
What does it mean to know yourself?
There is so much worth in our awareness of our actions, thoughts and feelings. If you are someone who cares about self-development and life improvement, then you must cultivate self-awareness.
Self-awareness allows us to first gain knowledge about what we think, feel, or do. Once we see patterns, we can begin to analyse, reshape, fix, or remove things where necessary.
Why am I feeling what I’m feeling?
Why did I react that way?
Why do I believe such hurtful things about myself?
The most fundamental part of knowing yourself is in self-awareness. Getting right down to the deeper, more difficult Why.
It can be useful to know ourselves so much that we can begin to predict what we will do. It’s like when you know a friend so well that you know what they’ll say next or how they’ll behave.
Knowing how we react to things can help us to alter our reactions or at least be more intentional. Say you know that around certain people you will start smoking again. This knowledge and awareness helps you to avoid those situations and not jeopardise your decision to quit.
How you form relationships
This is important. Some of us go in and out of relationships with zero self-awareness. We just let things happen on autopilot (which can be nice at times), but there are also instances where you need to take the wheel.
If you find yourself making “friends” with toxic people or going in and out of partnerships with people who treat you poorly, you need to analyse why this is.
With knowing yourself and how you love or form relationships, you are minimising your chances of getting into bad relationships, because you’re aware of your behaviours. It’s usually a lack of knowledge that leads to misfortune; ignorance is not always bliss.
When you work best
It is so useful to know how and when and where you work best. In this busy world that we live in, where everyone has a 9-5 office job plus a side hustle, it is beneficial to know yourself well enough to know your optimal working conditions.
Do you work best at a desk or on the sofa?
Outdoors or indoors?
In the morning, afternoon, evening, or night?
With a strict organised schedule or creatively going with the flow?
When you know this information, you can ensure that you get the important stuff done at your best work times. You can create the right environment for peak success.
Strengths and weaknesses
What are you good at? What are you bad at? Knowing these things, firstly, helps you to play to your strengths; secondly, you can see areas for improvement.
There are things in life that we must accept and things that we must change/improve. Knowing yourself is the first step to knowing the difference for your personal life.
Your dreams and goals
I’m not sure that everyone has dreams and goals and desires. But they should. Even if they’re ridiculous and seemingly impossible, having dreams and goals is saying to the universe that you want something. You have a drive. You are motivated by this thing.
Now, unhealthy attachments to dreams and goals are not good, but healthy striving and pursuing is a fulfilling part of life.
If I didn’t have my big dream of becoming an international best-selling author, I may stop writing. I might not be as motivated to do it each day.
Knowing what you want helps you to push forward and keep going and desire something beautiful and exciting for yourself – there’s nothing wrong with that.
Likes and dislikes
This one is big for forming relationships. There have been many times when I’ve been asked what I like or do for fun or my favourite XYZ, but I find myself unable to answer. This is not only somewhat embarrassing, but it also makes you seem a bit boring!
Knowing your likes and dislikes can help you to become a better conversationalist. It can help you to bond with people over shared interests. It can also help you to set boundaries, by expressing that this is what I like and this is what I don’t like and asking people to respect it.
Defence triggers and insecurities
This is a big one. It is important to know what your sore spots are. What are the things that other people or certain situations can cause to rise to the surface? What do you fear? What are your insecurities? What are your defence mechanisms?
Knowing yourself well enough to know what’s going on deep within you is empowering.
None of us are perfect. We all have flaws, failures, mistakes, imperfections, traumatic experiences, and sore topics we’d rather not address.
Once I knew what Social Anxiety and Depression was, I began to understand my triggers and symptoms. Once I knew all of that, I began to accept them. Then, I was able to cope better and take action to combat them.
I also know the areas that need work within me. Knowing this means others can’t hold them against me. It means I know what I need to work on and I can do so. It means I am in control, instead of my fears, limitations, and insecurities.
That is how we find our strength, and it all comes from self-knowledge.
How do we get to know ourselves?
- Spend more time alone: The noise of others can sometimes make us prioritise them over ourselves. It’s funny how we can easily describe others but struggle to describe ourselves…
- Journal: This is a great way to get clear on things and notice patterns within ourselves. It’s our own voice on the page, so pay attention to what pops up.
- Practice self-awareness: Pay attention, take note, witness your life and your mind; what is it telling you?
- Be more intentional and mindful: When on autopilot, we just live and act and think and feel without awareness. We’re zombies. But being more mindful, self-aware, and intentional means you are more in control, and so you can see what’s really going on.
There is real empowerment in knowing yourself, I think that’s the best word for it. You go through life with more confidence because you are aware and awake and authentic and appreciative of all that you know.
Getting to know yourself may raise some problem areas, but that’s ok. Better to know and confront it, then let it fester or impact your life without realising it.
So, date yourself, guys, and see what it’s like to get to know yourself!