Know Thyself to Know What You Want
It’s vital to learn about yourself in a changing world. Knowing thyself allows you to adapt to your strengths.
There are many ways to learn about yourself including personality tests, family/friend feedback, journaling/writing, and meditation.
Know thyself. This ancient Greek aphorism, originally attributed to Socrates, is said to have been inscribed at the temple housing the legendary Oracle of Delphi.
Why is it still so important?
At KDAlive, we regard self-awareness as critical to navigating every area of life, from career choices to relationships to spiritual growth. If we don’t understand ourselves, we often may end up making decisions that lead into unhappy situations. Conversely, if we learn to play to your own strengths, be compassionate toward our weaknesses and accept the singular blend that makes up each of us, chances are we’ll structure our lives in ways more conducive to happiness. We strongly recommend devoting dedicated time to self-discovery. Here are a few of our favorite ways.
Personality tests like Meyer Briggs, the Enneagram and Strengths Assessment are used extensively throughout both the professional and academic worlds to help determine what roles we are best suited for. (While the three just mentioned cost money, you can also take free quizzes, many of which are based on the famous official versions. Check out this list of free online personality tests.) Other questionnaires assess specific areas, such as life values, character strengths, emotional intelligence, or conflict style, this last offering insight into how you navigate interpersonal difficulties. Although such tests can never be 100% accurate—and sometimes they may not feel accurate at all—at the very least they spark interesting discussion and reflection that may lead to helpful revelations. These helpful revelations are important in getting to know thyself.
The next exercise we recommend is surveying close friends and family. Ideally, reach out to respected people who know you well and care enough to give their honest opinion while still being considerate of your feelings. Ask simple, straightforward questions like “What are my greatest strengths?” or “How have I changed in the last five years?” To learn more about your growth areas, ask if there’s anything they think you can do better, or if there are trouble spots in the relationship they want to see change. Be open and ponder receptively before drawing conclusions; the point is getting a view of yourself through someone else’s lens.
After taking a few tests and talking to people, create a quiet space to integrate your findings. Do they conform to your existing images of yourself, or were there surprises? If something doesn’t line up with what you thought of yourself before your research, be honest: is the finding due to a lack of self-awareness, or is the feedback flawed or invalid? Has the current picture changed from who you were five, ten, or twenty years ago? Most importantly, what will you do with the information? Journal your thoughts; this will help you find a more confident, grounded place through internal understanding.
Next, try out a few of your learnings. Maybe your assessments shone a light on the fact that you are creative––a part of yourself you put on the shelf a while ago. Maybe you have good leadership qualities that are suppressed in your current work environment. Starting small at first, find ways to implement your new knowledge,
There is no better way to take this process of self-exploration further than in the deep quiet of meditation. And while all forms of meditation offer introspective, distraction-free spaces to get in touch with ourselves, we highly recommend it. Vipassana for profound, direct insights. Vipassana is an ancient technique that uses self-observation of mind and body. It allows us to access deep truths and wisdom. Additionally, it is one of the most direct routes to a deeper understanding of ourselves.
As far as we know, each of us has only one mind and body to experience the physical universe. So let’s use the tools we are given! This is the real reason that sages of every era and culture have come up with their own ways to understand the self. As a result, we come to better understand all of life.
Enjoy this post? Look out for next week’s article on the top 10 forms of meditation.
Looking for a practical framework for self-awareness? Want to make better choices, develop healthier relationships, and live a happier life? Check out our next program, 40 Days to Ultimate Well-Being, and join a growing global network of people dedicated to bettering themselves and their communities!