Approaches to Improving Your Self-Knowledge
"Know thyself." This Ancient Greek aphorism has been quoted over and over for centuries, but what does it really mean? Some insist that "know thyself" refers to the importance of forming your own beliefs despite the beliefs of others, while some hold that it's best applied as a response to a braggart.
For many, the simplest definition of "know thyself" is most applicable in personal development training: by building knowledge of yourself, also known as self-knowledge, you'll be in a better position to improve in virtually all aspects of life. By doing so, you will not only gain a better understanding of who you are, but a greater degree of clarity in the path in which you wish to pursue.
What is Self-Knowledge?
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines self-knowledge as "knowledge of one's particular mental states, including one's beliefs, desires, and sensations." Self-knowledge can also encompass knowledge of our own character traits and identity conditions.
In simpler terms, self-knowledge is really about understanding what makes you who you are as a unique individual. It's about knowing that you're free to make your own decisions and shape yourself how you see fit, and realizing that the actions you take throughout your life truly do contribute to your ever-changing definition of your "self."
Why Increase Your Self-Knowledge?
For a person who obtains self-knowledge, the ultimate realization is often much different from complete satisfaction. Rather, most individuals with a high level of self-knowledge understand that, despite all of their successes and achievements, they still have plenty of shortcomings that can be addressed. As such, obtaining self-knowledge has the power to help you assess where you are right now, as well as where you want to be in the future.
Other reasons for increasing your self-knowledge include:
- You will be able to predict how you'll react to virtually any situation.
- You will know more (if not all) about the reasons behind your emotions and actions.
- You will have a better understanding of what makes you productive and positive, and therefore have a better chance of achieving these qualities every day.
- You will be able to differentiate between feelings that otherwise feel similar, such as paranoia, anger, sadness and jealousy. This will improve your ability to generate an appropriate response.
- You will be more likely to analyze a number of possible conclusions or decisions before choosing the "best" one.
Approaches to Increasing Your Self-Knowledge
Unlike the pursuit of physical fitness or personal wealth, the quest for self-knowledge is one that takes place almost entirely in your own mind, in a process known as introspection. Introspection is the process of "digging" through you mind to uncover hidden mental states, some of which are much easier to reveal than others. This is a delicate process that can best be handled by following a few important steps:
It's all about attitude
Think about the reasons behind your judgements, attitudes and feelings regarding yourself and the decisions you make that shape yourself. This can be as simple as considering why you prefer apples over oranges. What processes does your mind go through when it generates these types of preferences? Psychologists often argue that it's impossible to list 100% of the reasons behind an attitude or feeling because some of these reasons exist subconsciously.
Consider the emotions you're feeling
Numerous studies have suggested that focusing on a feeling in and of itself (whether it's anger, elation, confusion, reluctance, etc.), as opposed to the reasons behind the emotion, allows you to more easily draw a connection between an emotion and a subsequent behavior. As such, being able to immediately and clearly define "what" you're feeling, even if you don't know "why" you're feeling it, will improve your self-knowledge.
Put down traumatic and stressful events in writing
In your quest for self-knowledge, you may uncover previously suppressed traumatic and stressful events that have negatively shaped your understanding of yourself. You can make these events more manageable and understandable by writing them down. Do these events still bother you? How have they affected your decision making? What have you done to overcome these events and their repercussions?
Think about a future event, and predict how you'll react to it
For example, if you frequently argue with a family member, think about how those arguments have gone and how they'll likely go in the future. Think about how you can change the outcome of the event by bringing a different attitude. Knowing how you'll react to difficult events is absolutely critical to your self-knowledge.
Look at yourself through the perspective of another
This goes beyond introspection, as it requires you to analyze how other people perceive you and how their overall perceptions differ from your own. Be careful not to assume that others perceive you the same way you perceive yourself.
With the amount of information any person is expected to know in modern life, it's no wonder that many people forget to learn information about what's most important: themselves. Without self-knowledge, it's difficult to determine your true calling in life. What drives you? What makes you who are? Why do you react to situations and events the way you do?
The inspirational personal development programs created by LifePath Unlimited can help you find the answers to these questions and many more. The programs have helped thousands of individuals to learn more about who they really are, and why they have unlimited potential to improve in so many aspects. Learn for yourself and contact us for a 100% free consultation.