Socrates is known to have said that "the unexamined life is not worth living" and there comes a time in everyone's life where this statement will ring true and it will lead to a journey of self discovery to get to know yourself better. Often there is a catalyst that propels you into the journey of self knowledge whether it be a big life event or a personal turmoil that builds up until you find yourself looking for change. Not everyone takes the road to self discovery but some of you will and it will lead to a much more worthy and meaningful life experience.
Below I have listed several ways to go about getting to know yourself :)
What is the Meaning of Getting To Know Yourself?
Okay so in the beginning of this journey many of us, myself included, thought that we already know ourselves, like how could I not? Right? But in reality a lot of just never learned how to look inside ourselves and understand the working of our mind and soul. (doesn't that sound pretty?) So why does it matter to know the inner workings of ourselves?
Well for one, it's a major component of living in a civilized society. Let's face it, we all know someone that never learned how to control their anger or who can't stop themselves from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, maybe that person is you? (raises hand) Often, we say that that's just who we are, but is it? Typically people aren't angry all the time for absolutely no reason; there is usually some deep rooted issues behind their explosiveness. Learning what these issues are and working through them can help even the biggest hot head achieve a new level of calm.
Another reason why understanding ourselves is important is so that we can communicate and connect with others in a healthy manner. Personally, I struggle with saying "NO" to people and for a very long time this was a part that I hated (soo much) but I just brushed the negative feelings aside thinking that that's just who I am and swallowed the pain of making myself small to fit everyone else's desires for my life. I can't tell you what a liberation it is to learn that doesn't HAVE to be me, that I had just picked up that "belief" from my upbringing, my culture, and the society I was raised in, and that I could act on my own decisions and it would BE OKAY.
Working on my anger issues, my fear, my shyness, and my general unhappiness with life took time and a whole lots of inner work but I haven't felt the way that I feel now since I was like 5 years old!
That is really the gist of the importance of getting to know yourself, the earned quality of life and genuine happiness.
How to Start
"Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now." _ Eckhart Tolle
You have already taken step one by reading this article. There is no set plan for this journey other than the one you choose to take. There are millions of Self-Help and Personal Development books, courses, videos, and other material that will list their own versions of how to do this. (Here's mine!) But it really comes down to what you will and won't do.
I started this journey long ago. In highschool I read The 7 Steps to Highly Effective Teens and it opened my mind too so many things I was doing wrong. Now this journey shouldn't be about making you feel bad about who you are or the things you do but it should open your eyes to how your actions affect your life and the lives of those around you.
You may actively find yourself in a state of Cognitive Dissonance:
We are not always aware of the consequences of our behavior or even of our thoughts and emotions. We may not realize that certain negative thinking patterns are what are at the root of our moods each day. For people who understand this process, it is mindblowing to realize that not everyone else gets this. There are many things that you will learn about yourself and others that will challenge your ideas about life in general and I encourage you to keep an open mind and keep researching and learning. I have soo many books on these topics and while they all give tons of great information, they all teach something new, and they all have helped me see each topic or each aspect of myself in a new light.
So, rather than look for a perfect neat list of steps to take, focus on actively engaging with every new piece of information. Below are just a few ways that can help you start your inner journey.
This is a term you'd most likely learn in a psyche class and so if you haven't taken a psyche course you may mistake this word with "TEMPER" but they are not the same thing.
Your Temperament is:
"the fundamental groundwork of character, generally presumed to be biologically determined and existent early in life, inclusive of traits like emotional reactiveness, energy level, reaction tempo, and motivation to explore."
I am starting with this term first because it is sort of the base of who we are. This theory basically says that we have a specific temperament that we are born with and that guides us through our lives and is unchanging. It is not quite the same as personality, which can change throughout our life, but our personality can be and is most often influenced by our temperament. It is believed that our temperament can first be seen as infants and our personality and the way we react to our environment is then influenced by our temperament.
For Example you may notice that two kids that are both raised in a troubled home may both grow up to have very different personalities like one being calm and the other aggressive even though both of them may have seen aggressive behavior and violence
Since it is believed that our temperament doesn't change, then learning what it is, can help us with determining what changes or what specific behaviors we need to watch out for. For example if you are more reactive than others than you may find yourself in situations where you are more easily triggered by upsetting news and you react with with aggression. This may not be okay with your co-workers and may lead to conflict. But upon learning this, you can now take steps to be proactive in these situations like learning about anger management, conflict resolution, and avoiding triggers. Same process goes from someone who is too shy and is easily stompped on by others.
In order to learn more about this aspect of yourself you can take the myers briggs test.
The Id, Ego, and Superego
This is another psychological theory that states that there are 3 levels to our consciousness. By understanding each level we can learn what drives our thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
"According to Freud's structural theory of the mind, the id, the ego and the superego function in different levels of consciousness. There is a constant movement of memories and impulses from one level to another.
The ego operates mainly in conscious and preconscious levels, although it also contains unconscious elements because both the ego and the superego evolved from the id. Ruled by the reality principle, the ego takes care of the id urges as soon as the adequate circumstance is found. Inappropriate desires are not satisfied but repressed.
Only partially conscious, the superego serves as a censor on the ego functions and comprises the individual's ideals derived from the values of his family and society, being the source of guilty feelings and fear of punishment."
This can help with determining why we are driven to engage in behaviors that we may or may not want to engage in. It can help us with determining why we are led to follow certain paths in our lives and whether those urges stem from ourselves or things that we have learned from others.
OURselvesI think it is important to first recognize what parts of ourselves are actually part of and not every OTHER person that has been influencing us since we were born. While there is nothing wrong with agreeing with society and wanting to live lives similar to our parents and friends, there will be something wrong at some point of our lives if this isn't what we wanted. This is one of the hardest aspects of our own journeys of discovery because it is hard to seperate ourselves from others. It can feel lonely to think differently and to act differently than the status quo.