I remember my first tattoo; it was a phrase written in Latin and it meant “Know thyself”. I can’t really say where the inspiration came from, but I always knew that in this journey of life, knowing who you truly are as a person, and understanding yourself, is the key to navigating one’s life’s purpose.
Over time, I would stare at the tattoo, and remind myself, in everything that you are doing, make sure you know yourself. In my ethics class one time, and now that I think about it, this may very well be one inspiration for getting that tattoo. Why in Latin? Well, that’s a story for another day.
I remember the facilitator taking a course about the ‘self’ and how there are different aspects to knowing yourself. There is the part that you show to the world, the part that the world sees and you don’t, your true self and your hidden self. This might sound a bit complicated but then it made me further want to understand how I can get to know myself.
I also, upon further study realized that some reasons I never quite got to know myself, is that I expected to find one ready definition or manual, as opposed to dealing with the concept that the whole of me is made of parts. Would you say you truly know yourself?
Why is it important to know yourself?
Knowing who you are, is essentially the first step to truly understanding your life’s purpose. To know yourself, is to give your life meaning.
Oftentimes, we hear the phrase “trying to find myself” and this goes on for years, some of us never do, and that is because there is really nothing to find. Your self is not out there waiting to be picked up, this process is a personal, internal and conscious journey.
Why is it important and what could happen if you never get to know yourself?
In understanding why it is important to get to know yourself, there is a need to identify the signs that may show that one has a lack of comprehension of oneself.
If you often have a hard time deciding, and sticking to a decision you made, or you behave differently to different people and can’t seem to understand why you do the things you do, then these are the signs, and it is time to get to know yourself.
Knowing yourself, and who you truly are, helps you understand your life’s purpose. It instills in you self-confidence, as understood with the phrase; “having a sense of self”. Knowing yourself can also help you make better decisions and life choices. The more you understand yourself, the more you’re better able to understand the world around you and individual complexities.
Now you know the signs, and why it is important to get to know yourself, but then how can you get to know yourself. Sometimes, it’s as simple as self-reflection and introspection, involving asking yourself a ton of questions.
Other times, what you need to do is a little more detailed and is an actual process. I have come up with 15 simple hacks that I have used over the years, and still use till this very day, because getting to know yourself is not a one-stop shop. These hacks are in no particular order.
HACK 1: Know your triggers
Triggers are things that cause us to have a reaction. These reactions can be good, or bad, and the triggers can be personal and emotional.
For example, an emotional movie or a discussion about someone getting married might easily trigger someone. Having a check on what triggers you, helps you avoid issues like unstable mood swings, because you know yourself and these triggers, you’re better able to avoid them, and their situations.
HACK 2: Practice self-reflection and introspection
We are a product of actions, behaviors, emotions, and decisions, and these shape our lives. Reflecting on the past, even the recent past can help us better understand ourselves and assess ourselves. We can reflect on a particular event, and how we responded.
This information can help us with more events to come. Self-reflection can help with decision-making, and as identified above, one sign of not knowing yourself is the inability to decide.
Introspection is analyzing your thoughts patterns, emotions, motivations, your reason for doing things. Both reflection and introspection are internal processes that can help you get to know yourself.
HACK 3: Know your habits
“We are what we repeatedly do” – Aristotle
A habit is something that is done repeatedly till it becomes an involuntary part of us. For example, biting nails is a habit, smoking is a habit, keeping late nights is a habit, reading 3 hours is a habit… and these habits make us who we are. If I read for 3 hours every day, I am very well on my way to being a scholar.
If I exercise every day, fitness will become a part of me, and if I chew my nails, well, one can easily tell where that leads to. Knowing your habits, especially knowing which ones to imbibe and discard can help us get to know ourselves.
HACK 4: Acknowledge your emotions
This hack is by far one of the toughest for me because emotions are at the bedrock of everything that we do. It affects our behaviors, thoughts, and decision-making. Humans are emotional beings, it affects everything we do. But how can acknowledging your emotions help you get to know yourself? This is like knowing your triggers.
Actions are constant, and this may mean that there is a constant emotion or stream of such; by acknowledging your emotions, you are better able to control them and make better decisions and this leads to self-awareness which is the basis of knowing yourself.
HACK 5: Change your environment
We are a byproduct of the environment that we are in. The environment can affect the way you see the world around you, patterns of behavior, moods, etc. By changing the environment, even if it is occasionally taking a trip; interacting with different cultures and societies, you get a better sense of the world around you and how you fit in the grand scheme of things.
HACK 6: Understand and face your fears
Some of us are usually limited by our fears; fear of failure, fear of being embarrassed or of being wrong etc., and because of this, we often hinder ourselves from exploring life to the fullest.
For example, stage fright can prevent one from realizing how great of an actor they could be. Parts of ourselves can remain because of certain fears that lurk deep within. Facing your fears, helps you grow as a person and can help you on your journey to self-discovery.
HACK 7: Get to know your values
What do you stand for? What motivates you as a person? Are you motivated or guided by love?, justice? truth? Freedom?, Courage? All these are in a nutshell, what your values represent. Getting to know what your values are, is a step in the right direction, to truly understand who you are and get to know yourself.
HACK 8: Accepting change
Change is an inevitable part of life. Situations change, events change, and often, we as humans, are greatly affected. Losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, a big move to a new city, etc.
Some of us fear change, and as a result, we leave things the way they are because we cannot emotionally handle all that comes with separation, or detachment, or goodbyes. Accepting change to get to know yourself helps one develop traits like endurance and perseverance.
HACK 9: Take a personality test
I know this may sound a little “Pop culture” to you, but some of these test questions have strong foundations in behaviors, habits, thought patterns, actions, and emotions; these contribute to who a person is.
By answering these questions and truly internalizing the results, you can get to know why you are the way you are. This is not set in stone, however, there are points to note and it is usually fun. So why not try it. Check these out. https://www.wellandgood.com/types-personality-tests/
HACK 10: Get a new hobby
Hobbies are activities we partake in our leisure time to relax our minds and unwind. Some people make money from their hobbies. Trying something new, such as a new hobby, is a way of stimulating yourself and getting to discover parts of yourself that may be hidden. New hobbies you can try; painting, knitting, pottery, etc.
HACK 11: Journaling
Journaling refers to writing and keeping records of events and happenings. It is like a diary in some sense, where you record your day-to-day experiences. You can write about places you have been to, people you have met, and what new things you have tried or want to try. You can also keep track of your emotions.
HACK 12: Know your Strengths and your Weaknesses
Why is this important and how can this help you get to know yourself better? Self-confidence, which is a by-product of knowing yourself, comes with the ingrained knowledge of what you can handle, where you will flourish, and where you may be hindered.
HACK 13: Trusting your intuition
That little voice in your head that cautions you is your intuition. It is sometimes known as the voice of reason. Paying attention to your intuition is a way to get to know yourself because the voice of reason is like a check and balance to our emotions, thoughts and actions. Before you make a decision, try to find some quiet moments, and listen for that inner voice. This is one of the ways I get to know myself, by trusting my intuition.
HACK 14: Know your boundaries
Boundaries are blocks, barriers, or divides, that separate one thing or place from another. Now, as humans, this boundary is necessary so that we do not stretch ourselves too thin. What are those things that you will not tolerate? Boundaries help define the terms of an agreement, or relationship. If you do not have or know your boundaries, it can result in things like being taken for granted, and not being able to find self-fulfillment.
HACK 15: Ask around
Another way to get to know yourself, is to ask friends and family what they think of you. Ask them to describe the kind of person that they think you are. This can help you juxtapose with what you have come to know of yourself, you then analyze, or make a self audit and get to know yourself better.
In conclusion, navigating this world that we live in, requires tremendous effort; the effort that can be made easier if you truly know yourself and what you stand for. These 15 simple hacks are something you can get started on right away. You do not have to do everything in one day, you can take a few at a time.
So, which one will you be starting with first? Journaling? Getting to know your values? Or perhaps you are eager to see what these personality tests have in store for you.