Everyday you look at other people, you listen to them, watch them and have opinions on them. When was the last time you sat down and looked at yourself, listened to yourself and watched yourself and your actions and proceeded to reflect on them?
Why is self knowledge important ?
If you want to progress in life, awareness is key: “If we do not know where we are starting from it makes it more difficult to know where we want to go”
Each time we need to find a place; where do we start? Where we are, of course! When we use our GPS or even when we Google an address we need a starting point – our present situation. WE are the starting point to all the journeys and progress in our lives and in order to plan and continue this journey as we wish we need to know who we are or else the journey can very well feel like a trek in the wilderness. Self knowledge and self awareness start by answering the questions “Who am I?” and “ Where am I?”
Self knowledge is the knowledge of the person we are, our skills, our abilities, our preferences, our beliefs, our traits and our behavior.
Knowing yourself helps you figure out:
- Your strengths and what sustains you and helps you overcome your challenges
- The internal obstacles that holds you back and prevents you from achieving
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who am I?
- Where am I ?
- How did I get to here?
- Where do I want to go ?
- What are the resources and choices available to me whilst I am on my journey?
- What do I need in order to succeed in my quest?
- What are the obstacles on my way and how do I overcome them ?
Here are the seven steps to take to knowing yourself a little better:
1. Learn your values
When we talk about our values (like family, honesty, joy…) we are full of passion, because we hold them close to our hearts and we aspire to uphold them. We usually start our sentences “I believe in”. Our values transpire in everything we do. When we do not uphold them it is like fighting an internal war.
To know who we really are, we have to start from a place of integrity. We have to look at ourselves as who we really are not as how we would like to be. It is about who we are really as opposed to what we are expected to be.
Our values are good indicators of who we are. They often explain our behavior, our motivations and our challenges. Our values set parameters for all the decisions we take, when we act against our values system it is more out of a sense of compliance than out of commitment and the ransom we pay for going against our values is lack of peace of mind.
If you believe in the value of integrity and you see one of your superiors making a false report, or may stay quiet out of fear of reprisals but it still haunt you that you did not do anything. Or seeing a member of your family do something very wrong and have to keep quiet because he/she is family.
2. Get to know all your strengths
What are your skills, abilities and talents? They are part of the resources which you will need on the journey to where you want to go.
Do you tend to focus on your academic degrees or your training to describe your skills?
Faced with a challenge do you sometimes say “I do not have enough knowledge… enough experience to do that.”?
In our quest for self knowledge we have to go beyond this and look at our life as a whole.
We have all overcome challenges and then said “I never thought I could do this” “ I don’t know where I found the strength…”
Do you know what you were talking about then? Yes, you were referring to strengths which you possessed but were unknown to you, strengths untapped until then!
What about all the other skills we have like being calm in the face of danger? Being there when a friend/relative is in crisis? What about the social work that we do, commitment to a cause? They are very valuable talents that we possess which we need to reflect on, remind ourselves of. We often do things we felt very proud of but then forget these events and the qualities which we exhibited then.
3. Believe in yourself
We forget far too often to look at ourselves in the light of all our strengths, skills, achievements and contributions to others. Yet it is very important to do so as it automatically raises our level of self confidence, self belief and self efficacy.
Self belief is of paramount importance because people who believe they can succeed see opportunities where others see threats. They embrace it and they will be spurned to take greater risks for greater rewards.
4. See yourself as others see you
We have a measure of control over what we are aware of but what we are unaware of controls us. We all have blind spots; that is behaviours, traits that we possess but are unaware of. These behaviours and traits often become Achille’s heels for us when we are unaware but other people are!
Our blind spots are things people others can see about us but that we cannot see.
Have you ever been told something about yourself and thought “No that is not true “but after some reflection, you changed your mind?
Despite being successful, some people no idea how their behaviour is coming across to people who matter: loved ones, bosses, customers.
Self knowledge allows you to the choice to correct your flaws and prevent them from sabotaging your relationships. When we know that we are behaving in a way which has a potential to damage, we can do something about it.
We need objective feedback and assessments about ourselves: listen to what the people close to you tell you and take the time to evaluate what they say and whether you need to bring changes to your behavior.
5. Learn what your true goals are
Knowing yourself allows you to know where you want to go.
Once you have this clear view of this journey and what it will take for you to reach your destination it allows you not to work at cross purposes with what you consider to be your end goal.
In the film “Bridge on the river Kwai”, the protagonist there is a prisoner of war. As he is dedicated to excellence he builds a beautiful bridge for his jailors and finds himself having to defend his fellow officers from destroying the bridge to prevent the allied trains to bring troops and ammunition. The dangers of goal obsession is of losing sight of what is really important to us. God forbid, it happens to any of us, working harder and harder for more and more money and losing the stability in the family.
When we are asked to look into our lives and what we really want and how we are going to reach our goals, it is also important to look at what are we willing to sacrifice and what are we willing to compromise.
6. Find the best way to keep your cool
Conflicts happen everywhere where there is more than one person we have different values, personalities and background.
We know it is going to happen and we would like to deal with conflict in the most effective way. With this knowledge in mind we can already identify situations which make us lose it, knowing ourselves include knowing what triggers our negative emotions.
You can also decide what would be the best way for you to handle this situation like take a time out, breathe and delay your response or keep your focus on the issue and not on the person.
In our quest for self knowledge we must also find out how our own behavior can contribute to creating conflicting situations. From there, we can start to reflect on the courses of action needed in order to prevent a difference of opinion spiraling into an emotionally charged argument where reason vanishes.
7. Discover what makes you happy
Happiness is usually the highest on our hierarchy of goals.
The confidence of the knowledge of our skills, talents and capabilities allows us to leverage on these strengths in order to progress.
When we know ourselves and our values it is easier to find out all the little and big things which provide purpose and meaning to our lives. I am talking of things which may not be related to work, like if you value generosity, a regular gesture to help someone less fortunate will provide you satisfaction. Or honouring your family values by making time for a relative you haven’t seen for long!
Self knowledge is also about finding out what is within our power to make ourselves happy and more importantly what are we tolerating in our lives people, situations.
When we talk of having a meaningful life it encompasses not only the realization of our goals but also a sense of purpose which possesses personal significance for us.
Now that you’ve learned how to listen to your true self, what are you going to do about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page!