Last month’s article discussed techniques on accepting oneself. For those who might be struggling with the concept of self-acceptance, let’s go back one step and first get to know who we are.
This might sound strange. Most of us think we know ourselves, but actually our self-knowledge is mostly superficial. We know our appearance, profession, gender, favorite foods, pastimes, and activities. But we may struggle with recognizing connected patterns of behavior and emotions, or with remaining present with our feelings and thoughts during stressful times. We may regularly repress, avoid, ignore feelings and emotions, or we may not know what we are feeling or thinking or our motivation/intention at any given time. In other words, we are mostly absent from ourselves.
Self-awareness or knowing oneself is understanding how our feelings and thoughts affect our behavior and relationships with ourselves and others in the world. The heart of wisdom is clearly grasping that your internal world (feelings, emotions, thoughts) and external world (family, work, social relationships) influence each other. This is also called emotional intelligence.
Living with self-awareness (i.e. being yourself or being authentic) is the key to being happy, energetic, passionate, successful, and fulfilled.
Knowing ourselves empowers us to:
The researched benefits of self-awareness are improved relationships, better mood and emotion management, improved self-esteem, success, and productivity, and a greater understanding of your needs and wants and your ability to attain them.
We can cultivate a practice of deepening our self-knowledge through exploring new interests and activities or discovering our deepest feelings. Below are more ideas to get you started.
Self-discovery can bring up painful feelings and memories, so be compassionate with yourself, and go slowly if you need. Try to be with the process without judgment and with detached observation as much as possible. This is where curiosity comes in very handy. The effort self-knowledge requires is big, but it is a very good investment because knowing ourselves will help us move through life with greater ease.
May truly knowing yourself bring you peace and happiness.