Know Thyself And The Quest For Self-Knowledge


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Why is it important to know yourself? I’ve ignored my feelings for most of my life and went along with what everyone else was saying. Recently, I’ve gained confidence which has enabled me to take advantage of my self-knowledge.

It is essential to know yourself because it makes it easier to accept yourself for who you are. When you accept yourself, you gain independence from relying on other people for your satisfaction. On top of this, knowing yourself helps with decision-making because when you know what you want, it is easier to get it.

As someone who spends a lot of time thinking, I’ve thought a lot about myself, who I am, what I want and what I should do with my life.

Read on, and I will share what I’ve learnt along the way and what you can do to improve your self-knowledge.

Know Yourself and Make Better Decisions

Knowing yourself can make a big difference when it comes to making difficult decisions. A few months ago, I went against my desires and applied for a job that I didn’t want, which left me feeling dissatisfied and disappointed.

It all started in the middle of last year; my team leader announced that he had found a new job and would be stepping away. At the time, he told me he hoped that I would take his place; I also got similar comments from other people on our team. After he left, the company wasn’t in any rush to hire someone else, so I took over many of his responsibilities. This meant more meetings and less time on the technical work that I enjoy.

This new arrangement went on for a few months, and while I was covering his job and mine, there wasn’t any financial benefit to me, as I wasn’t being paid more for the extra work. Eventually, the department announced that they would be hiring someone to fill the position that was in limbo. Again, everyone on the team told me to apply, as did my wife and family.

While I appreciated everyone’s compliments on my abilities and competence to fill the role, it just didn’t feel right to me.

Even as people were saying I would be great for the job, it gave me anxiety and dread to even think about it. Despite these feelings, I listened to everyone else’s advice and applied for the job anyway.

People often say we should step outside of our comfort zones and do what scares us. In a sense, I trusted that that was what I was doing by applying for the job. In other words, even if it didn’t feel right, it could be the sort of exercise that would push me to another level in my career.

As my interview came up, I spent a lot of time preparing and researching the questions that I’d be asked. I also worked on selling myself as best as possible. This effort got my hopes up and gave me some excitement; I even started to believe that I would be happy to take the job.

The interview seemed to go well, and I answered all the questions without any difficulties. However, after the hiring team did a few more interviews, I was told that I wouldn’t be invited to the second round. While hearing this stung a little, it brought me a lot of relief; because the interview process revealed that I didn’t want to take on the new job or the responsibilities it entailed.

The thing is that I knew from the start that I didn’t want the job, my self-knowledge was leading me away from it, but I followed the advice of the people around me.

While self-knowledge is something that we can develop, it is also something that we need to have confidence in to utilize and take advantage of. If we know what we want but instead follow what other people suggest, we will only be disappointed in ourselves and our decisions.

Why It Is Important to Know Yourself

Without self-knowledge, it is challenging to accept and love yourself. While it might seem a little over the top to proclaim “I love myself,” it is an essential step in personal development.

Often we may have negative feelings about ourselves because we haven’t accepted our strengths and flaws.

We might see the mistakes we made in the past as deep flaws in our personality or character. But if we learn to accept that we acted a certain way because of reasons we can learn to understand, then it can be easier to make better choices in the future.

I can say for myself, I have made terrible mistakes in the past, and while at the time I didn’t realize what I was doing, I know now how to avoid such errors.

Understanding and loving yourself doesn’t have to be new-age fluff; it can be as simple as accepting yourself for who you are, both good and bad. Sometimes these realization hurts, but it’s better to understand it, get over it and move on with your life. 

The more we get caught up in feeling bad about ourselves, the less we can focus on improvement and moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong; sometimes we must regret what we have done, but in time, we must also learn to forgive ourselves and commit to not making the same mistakes again.

Once you have self-love, you can move on to self-confidence and independence; this means you can be sure of yourself and your opinions. Often we don’t have confidence in ourselves, so we go with what other people suggest instead. In the story earlier, because I didn’t have self-confidence in my gut feeling about the job, I put in the effort for something I didn’t want.

While applying for a job isn’t a massive disruption in life, other life decisions can have enormous consequences. For this reason, we must be self-aware and able to be clear about what we want in oppose to what other people are pushing us towards.

Long ago, I almost married the wrong person; I could only end the relationship once I gained confidence in my own opinions and decisions.

Loving ourselves enables us to accept ourselves for who we are, the good and the bad.

Confidence pushes us forward and gives us faith in our ability to make decisions for ourselves. With both of these things in mind, we are lead towards clearer decision making, which is the ultimate goal of self-knowledge.

In a previous article, I talked about what we should do with our lives; in that discussion, I made the point that we often have trouble finding direction because we don’t have a system or framework to work within.

While the concept of ikigai can guide us towards meaning in our lives, there are two ingredients that we require from ourselves, and those are what we love and what we are good at. The best way to figure both of those things out is through the acquisition of self-knowledge.

If we have a process to solve a problem, we are in a great position.

But we are even better off if we have a clear understanding of our starting points. In other words, while you might know how to use a map, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you are, to begin with.

5 Benefits of Self-Knowledge

1) Self-Control

For myself, I have a massive problem with sweets; if they are around, I will eat them until they are all gone. Long ago, I learnt that the only way to maintain self-control over my consumption was not to buy in the first place. To this day, I keep up with the practice, and the better I get at avoiding buying things, the easier it is to eat it all when I buy it.

Knowing how you will react in a situation tells you everything you need to know about whether you should get yourself into the situation or not.

I should not buy a bag of chocolate cause it will be gone before the day is up. When we know what is bad for us, we can avoid doing them if we understand what leads to them. Self-control is much easier if you know what causes your problems in the first place.

2) Greater Satisfaction

If you know what you want, you are better able to get it. If you have no idea what you want, you will go along with the crowd or chase after the things you’re told to want rather than what you truly want. It isn’t easy to get some things in life, so we are better positioned to put our efforts into worthwhile things if we know we what those things.

Satisfaction comes from pursuing our desires and achieving our goals; clearly, we can’t always get what we want, but we are better positioned if we chase after the things we want.

Satisfaction comes from doing the right things, and the best way to know what to do is through self-knowledge and awareness.

3) Avoiding Peer Pressure

When we are young and still learning who we are, we can often be swept away by peer pressure. These impulsive decisions can lead to us doing things that we don’t want to do or regret later. By having a clear sense of who you are, what you value and what you want to do, you will have the confidence to say no to the things you don’t want to do.

Often we do what we need to do to fit in, even if it isn’t what we want to do. While this happens more often when we are younger, it is still essential to be clear about what we want and who we want to be as we get older. Knowing yourself will enable you to make clear choices when you need to.

4) Less Fear

Fear often comes from the unknown; if we don’t know what we think about, there is a better chance we will be scared. At the same time, when it comes to new opportunities and experiences, we are more likely to be scared if we are unsure of how those experiences fit into our life goals or objectives.

At the same time, if we don’t know what we fear, then we might have unexpected reactions to situations.

Having self-knowledge about what we fear positions us to understand why we feel the way we do. On top of this, once we realize we fear something, we can also see more clearly if it is worth that feeling or not. When we understand ourselves, we can see past some of our problems.

5) We Can Make the Best Decisions

The key to deciding what we should do in any situation comes down to alignment with our goals and objectives. When we don’t have any plans, we can often trace it back to not knowing what we want from life. Often we don’t know what we want because we don’t know what we love, what we are good at, or where we want to go.

Having a good foundation of self-awareness and self-knowledge will help us gain a perspective of where we are and where we want to go.

Once we have that sorted out, it is easier to make good choices because our decisions will align with our declared values and goals. Having consistency in our values enables us to make decisions that are consistent with who we are.

While there are many benefits to self-knowledge, what is most important is that we commit ourselves to learning about ourselves and who we are. Greater self-awareness enables us to be more amazingOpens in a new tab. people.

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