Humans are complicated beings, and we’re all remarkably unique.
Your childhood, parents, the love you received (or didn’t), your past relationships, your genes, the culture you were born in, the music you listen to, and even the tv shows you’ve watched all constitute who you are.
The most interesting part about all of this is that we’re mostly unaware of it all.
Your mind is complex, and even though mastering it entirely is kind of impossible, it all starts with self-awareness.
When I started this blog, I didn’t know where it was going to take me.
I was going through a rough patch at the moment, so I wanted to write about self-growth to help myself.
After writing thousands of words, now I find myself writing about self-discovery more and more.
It’s become the essence of my work and the content I produce.
The Cheapest, Most Straightforward Way to Know Yourself
Journaling is the art (and science) of processing feelings through writing.
I’ve been journaling for almost two years (if you don’t count my teen diaries). It’s changed my life.
And no wonder.
Have you ever heard about the links between writing and emotional processing?
According to Dr. James Pennebaker, Ph.D., author of Opening Up by Writing It Down and Expressive Writing: Words that Heal, people who write about emotionally-charged experiences live happier, less depressed, and less anxious.
Dr. Pennebaker researched for over 40 years the effects writing has on well-being.
He’s an internationally recognized researcher whose name pops up every time you research the impact journaling has on mental health.
Pennebaker has found that writing about events helps make sense of them. Writing serves as an outlet for anxiety and other hard-to-deal-with feelings.
The Benefits of Knowing Yourself
I’ve written about the benefits of self-discovery before, but, in a nutshell, these are SOME of the things it will help you accomplish:
- be happier because self-discovery and self-expression go hand in hand, and when you learn to express yourself, you feel happier
- speak up and stand up for yourself because it helps you increase your levels of self-worth
- make better decisions because when you know yourself, you understand your principles and values, which helps you make better choices, quicker
- set boundaries in relationships because it enables you to understand your values, what you stand for, and what you’re willing to tolerate or not
- identify your negative self-talk so you can reframe your thoughts and turn them into empowering ones
- figure out what you want to do with your life.
And so much more.
8 Steps to Know Yourself Better
1. Understand your past
Take a hard look at your history, from your early childhood to yesterday.
How much have you changed? Has your personality always been the same?
How did your relationship with your parents shape you?
What did you learn the first time you fell in love?
Make a timeline of your life and highlight your achievements and turning points.
What are the most decisive moments and decisions in your life?
Make a list of the most influential people in your life. What have you learned from them?
Who has influenced you the most?
You can’t love who you are today without loving the experiences that shaped you.
So, with that in mind, understanding your past and how it shaped you is one of the first steps you need to take to know and love yourself.
2. Understand your feelings
Emotions come and gone, and they vary throughout the day.
You’re not in control of them, but being able to observe and understand them is just as powerful.
Developing emotional awareness is a crucial component in self-discovery.
Make a habit of tuning in to how you feel in different situations throughout the day.
To increase your emotional awareness, learn to label your emotions.
Instead of just saying you’re angry, think if you’re also disappointed, frustrated, or scared.
To do so, broadening your emotional vocabulary is vital.
Go beyond the basics like angry, sad, happy, and include courageous, inspired, victimized, or judgmental.
You can use tools like the feelings wheel to learn how feelings connect and to broaden your vocabulary.
Once you improve your emotional vocabulary, get into the habit of rating your emotions from 1-10, depending on how strong they are.
3. Understand Your Beliefs & Values
Belief systems influence our thoughts and emotions.
It’s the mental system you use to know what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and what’s not, and how things “should” be.
They’re like a set of rules that tells you what’s right, what’s wrong, and what “should” be.
We all have them.
It’s impossible not to.
Belief systems help us make sense of the world.
They include values and assumptions that act like filters through which you interpret everything around you.
In this context, the word “belief” isn’t limited to “religious” beliefs.
According to The Free Dictionary, one of the definitions of belief is “Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something.”
Our beliefs constitute what’s true to us.
We start learning all of our beliefs from a very young age.
By the time we’ve reached adulthood, our belief system is constituted by hundreds of thousands of beliefs that shape who we are.
Because beliefs are so inherent to us, we tend to be unaware of most of them.
Some beliefs may include things like:
- “Boys don’t cry.”
- “I will never find true love.”
- “I never have enough money.”
- “Things can’t go well for too long.”
And many others.
Becoming aware of your belief systems is critical to know yourself because your emotions come from what you believe to be true.
A gay couple walking down the street won’t give you anxiety unless you believe, deep within yourself, that being gay is wrong.
You won’t nurture your relationships with sensitive men if you believe deep inside that boys don’t cry or that men aren’t supposed to feel the way women do.
You won’t succeed until you stop believing you’re a failure.
4. Understand Your Habits & Routines
Humans are creatures of habits.
According to a study by Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our everyday behavior.
The most interesting part is that most people aren’t even aware of their habits.
They check their phones as soon as they open their eyes in the morning, choose Coke over water every time, and make excuses instead of being honest about why they procrastinate without even realizing it.
We are what we repeatedly do.
If you’re not aware of your habits and the reasons behind them, you’re ignoring about 40 percent of who you are.
5. Understand Your Self-Talk
There’s nobody on the entire planet with whom you talk more than yourself.
If you’re like the average human, you probably spend all day having a conversation with the little voice inside your head.
This is what constitutes your self-talk.
Your self-talk (a.k.a. the little voice in your head) has an undeniable impact on how you live your life.
This voice tells you what you “should” do, what you deserve and what you don’t, and more.
The reason why knowing your self-talk is so
Just think about it.
Imagine you had a loving friend who cheers you on, tells you you’re beautiful, and appreciates you for who you are.
And now imagine you had a friend who puts you down every time she has the chance, underestimate you, and tells you you’re ugly.
Don’t you think that hanging out with each of them would significantly impact how you feel?
Your self-talk is like a “friend” that lives inside of you.
They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps.
Well, your self-talk constitutes your company as well.
6. Understand Your Strengths
When you’re pretty sure of what you’re good at, you can capitalize on those strengths more easily.
Knowing your strengths, your talents, and your skills gives you a better understanding of yourself.
And not only that, but it also improves your self-confidence, which is a plus.
Understanding your strengths will help you know how unique you are and the value you bring.
It will also help you stop falling into comparison traps.
7. Understand Your Fears
We’re all afraid of something, including you.
The funny thing about fears is that they range from really small to really huge, and from very conscious to very unconscious.
Some of your actions, thoughts, and desires stem from fear.
What are you afraid of? What holds you back?
8. Understand Your Aspirations, Goals & Dreams
The number one question I get asked is: “How do I decide what to do with my life??”
Well, the only way to know is by knowing yourself.
Know what you want, know your dreams, understand your aspirations.
If you can’t describe what you expect to get out of life, chances are you’ll end up working at a job that doesn’t meet your expectations.
Or having a lifestyle that doesn’t align with what you want.
Knowing your aspirations doesn’t guarantee you will get everything you want, but it’s a solid foundation to help shape your actions.
And this is why I tell people that you need to know your aspirations to choose a career or a job.
If you’re serious about your self-discovery and want to start a soul-searching journey, check out the Self-Discovery Bundle.
This is a pack made of seven beginner-friendly workbooks to help you know yourself and what you want.
Filling them out will help you build a life according to your own terms, increase your self-confidence, get rid of your negative self-talk, and more.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you probably know I’m a huge journaling lover.
I believe journaling can save you and “unstick” you when you’re in a rut.
And I know a thing or two about journaling.
These workbooks are a collection of journaling prompts and exercises designed to help you know yourself better and have fun while at it.
The Bottom Line
Knowing yourself is part of the foundation of intentional living.
If you don’t know yourself, how could you live according to your purpose?
How could you understand your purpose?
How could you know why you’re unhappy and what you need if you don’t uncover who you are?
Investing time in understanding yourself can increase your levels of happiness, improve your life, help you make better decisions, and identify the beliefs that are holding you back.