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The Rules Of Self-Understanding
Alright, I get that a lot of us don’t like to discuss “touchy-feely” topics.
Some of us try to avoid talking about who we are and how we feel because it makes us feel vulnerable.
And most of us are adamant that we “know” who we are and don’t need anybody or any “stinky” assessment to tell us so.
But what we really want to say is that “I don’t want any parts of self-understanding because I AM AFRAID!”
I am fearful for what I may discover about myself. It may not be a good look.
I get that.
Let’s be brutally honest.
First, most of us fear being judged by others whether we admit it or not.
- Think about how you feel when you get your annual evaluation from your boss.
- Think about your feelings when you do your annual physical examination.
- Think about the presentation you gave to your peers.
- Think about your feelings when you submit an article or essay for review.
- Think about your feelings in general regarding comments about your performance.
Subconsciously or consciously we want those above things to be darn near perfect.
In all those situations, either our abilities, our intelligence, the way we live, and sometimes our appearance are opened for criticism. In our mind, those things are a reflection of who we are, and if someone judges those things negatively, we immediately associate that negativity with how people see us.
Point. Blank. Period.
That same fear we have from people judging us is the same devil sitting on our shoulder when we judge ourselves. Hence, we start to question who we are and not in a good way.
Did we live up to our expectations?
Are we true to ourselves?
Is our career on track?
Are we happy?
Are we pretty?
Does this dress make me look fat? (I just had to throw that one in there.)
Self-understanding can feel like standing in front of a mirror that highlights every flaw we have from the inside out. Picking a part our souls. Showing us our weaknesses, our limits, our lack of confidence. Leaving us raw.
So we don’t look into the mirror for long, and most of the time, we avoid it altogether.
The same thing can be said about our avoidance of self-understanding.
However, self-understanding results aren’t all bad news. You may discover hidden strengths and abilities.
With self-understanding comes an ability to make sense of not just ourselves, but also of the world around us. The transformation shifts us from a place of cluelessness to a state of understanding, control, and power.
However, my friends, there are some simple rules of self-understanding to bare in mind.
Rule #1: Know Thyself
Well, this might seem fairly obvious considering we’re discussing self-understanding – but it’s a pretty important step. You need to recognize the various emotions that you experience and understand the feelings that are coming from them and understand exactly how you think and behave because of those emotions.
Just consider the lengths that professional athletes go to in order to recognize the feelings that could impair their game. They seek to analyze obstacles that may prevent them from performing their best. This allows them to beat anger, to overcome frustration, and to focus on their overall performance without being distracted by the noise in their head and around them.
Understanding your emotional weaknesses, limits, and strengths, while being aware of where your confidence lies, can provide you with the knowledge to overcome great challenges.
Rule #2: Develop a Sense of Self-Understanding
This isn’t a case of being born with a level of self-understanding; rather, it’s something that you can actively develop. Developing a sense of self-understanding partly comes from recognizing and analyzing your feelings. Sometimes it may be difficult to take; however, here are some simple ways to assess your feelings:
- Start keeping a journal where you can record your feelings in response to something, someone, or a situation that trigger strong emotions. Take note of any physical reactions you experience as well as the emotional ones. Evaluate whether the emotion is appropriate.
- Create an expansive list of all the roles you fill in your life – including employee, boss, parent, spouse, sibling, writer, musician, accountant or whatever else fits – write down as many as you can possibly think of. Now, make a note of how you feel about each of those roles and be specific about the emotions they evoke. If they aren’t the emotions you desire, this will help you make adjustments to the roles you hold.
- Now, think of a particular situation you are facing and predict the emotions that you will go through beforehand. Start naming those emotions and accept them – just the simple act of naming your emotions can put control back in your hands. You can be prepared or plan how to counteract those emotions.
Rule #3: Get Ready
To benefit from self-understanding, you must be prepared for what it reveals (the good and the bad) to you. You can do this by
- Being open
- Being honest
- Accepting that which is true
- Acknowledging that which you want to change
Rule #4: Ditch Your Assumptions
In order to reach a profound level of self-understanding, you must first let go of preconceived notions about yourself.
We’re all guilty of making assumptions – whether it’s about our own beliefs and values or regarding others. So, when you find yourself making assumptions, there are a few ways you can challenge yourself to adjust your thinking. These exercises are just another key to unlocking self-understanding and helping you understand why you respond in certain ways to particular situations.
- What were your initial reactions to this person or event?
- If your initial reaction was positive, how did this influence you?
- If your initial reaction was negative, how did this influence you?
All the above rules of self-understanding, which should bring you awareness, control, and power of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, play a role in getting you to truly understanding who you are; so, you can make adjustments and develop a plan to obtain your goals. So, once you have adhered to the rules, then your next steps should be to
Know your purpose
Are you wandering through life with little direction – hoping that you’ll find happiness, health and prosperity? Identify your life purpose or mission statement and you will have your own unique compass that will lead you to your truth every time.
Know your values
What do you value most? Make a list of your top 5 values. Some examples are security, freedom, family, spiritual development, learning. As you set your goals – check your goals against your values. If the goal doesn’t align with any of your top five values, you may want to reconsider it or revise it.
Know your needs
Unmet needs can keep you from living authentically. Take care of yourself. Do you have a need to be acknowledged, to be right, to be in control, to be loved? There are so many people who lived their lives without realizing their dreams and most of them end up being stressed or even depressed for that matter. List your top four needs and get them met establishing goals.
Live from the inside out
Increase your awareness of your inner wisdom by regularly reflecting in silence. Perform activities that bring you peace. Breathe deeply to quiet your distracted mind.
Honor your strengths
What are your positive traits? What special talents do you have? List three – if you get stuck, ask those closest to you to help identify these. Are you imaginative, witty, good with your hands? Find ways to express your authentic self through your strengths. You can increase your self-confidence when you can share what you know with others.
When you are true to who you are and living your purpose, there’s a strong desire to give back in service. The joy you experience from living authentically motivates you to share the wealth (not necessary monetary wealth) or pay it forward. This reward along is worth the effort of self-understanding.
The pathway to self-understanding lies within ourselves. Once we have raised our self-understanding, we are clearer on the things we wish to achieve from life.
“Celebrating the life you have while creating the life you want.”