Self-Knowledge – From the Inside Out

By: Eduardo Amorim | Mentor & Coach

Life, Health and Wellness

“Who am I?’ That’s a great question. Who are you? What are you like? I’m sure those kinds of questions have popped in your mind sometime in your life. We often see people knowing a lot about other things and other people, but they too often don’t know much about themselves, why they are, behave and act that way. Not working on that is a like stepping further away from real, true happiness. In this article we are going to show you how to get there.

The mystic and spiritual teacher George Ivanovich Gurdjieff once said, ““Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.”. That couldn’t be more true. The more you know how to use a computer and its system, the better your performance at it is and, when it comes to human beings, our computer is the brain and the system is the mind.

Have you found the answers to some of your questions? If not, it’s time to. Using self-knowledge to learn about ourselves makes us better at our personal, social, professional, spiritual, mental and even physical health. These areas make what I call Integrative Health and Wellness, but that is a subject for other posts. Now, it’s time to go down the amazing road of self-knowledge.

Explaining Self-knowledge

“Know thyself”, said Socrates. There are many ways to explain what self-knowledge is. To put it into simple and easy words, it’s the understanding of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, mindset, attitudes and behaviors. It’s the ability to look inwards and learn about what makes you be you – your emotions, beliefs, your purpose in this world, how to be a better person for yourself and others, how to connect to your essence or your true self.

This process makes it possible to identify emotional difficulties and challenges, fears or convictions that limit the achievement of goals and objectives. For that, it is extremely important to be willing to break down barriers and open up to new possibilities.

For each quality you discover, your confidence will improve as well as your self-esteem, and you will know exactly how to act according to your nature in every situation of life. Moreover, this is the main point of self-knowledge: discover your nature and you will know how to act according to what your heart feels and thus find happiness.

The Importance of Self-knowledge

Knowing yourself is a practice that is infinite and must be constant; after all, you are never the same all the time and never go through the same situations every day. Every new event that happens is meant to teach you something about you. It may sound a lot of work, but the results are rewarding. Personal self-knowledge concerns the awareness of your desires, goals and purposes. A process that seeks to give the individual the necessary autonomy so that they can guide their own life.

Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" emphasizes that when we are trapped in a reality that we consider to be unique and absolute, we don’t open space for new knowledge and opportunities. However, when we leave the "cave", the horizon widens and we begin to understand reality better.

Having self-knowledge is also crucial to understanding the causes and achievements of unsuccessful projects as well as conflict of relationships - personal or professional - in order to seek the best way to overcome them. From the moment you really know yourself, you begin to perceive (and consider) the environment and the people around you better, and acquire a more systemic worldview.

How to Achieve Self-knowledge

There are several methods of self-knowledge nowadays. Whether through therapies with a psychologist, coaching and mentoring, esoteric studies, meditation, or even some spiritual and religious practice. The important thing is to find out what helps you find your essence, what you have of most valuable and pure within yourself. You can also work using self-education like in any other area. In fact, self-knowledge is a bridge to self-education.

Also, always question yourself! Understand what motivates you, what bothers you and why. Explore new experiences and stay open to new possibilities, narrowing down what is best for you. This way you become more aware of your preferences and make decisions that are more assertive. Talk to those who are close to you, understand how they see you, it also helps a lot in the process of "recognizing yourself" and you may be surprised by characteristics in your behavior that have not been noticed before.

Other tips that could be useful are:

  • Have some time every day for yourself, be it for meditation or to enjoy your own company – practice solitude;

  • Be aware of the emotions you feel and how you react to them. Understanding that may show a lot more you don’t know about yourself.

  • Write down dreams and goals. What is your passion? What are the things you want to accomplish in life?

  • Avoid keeping your thoughts in the past or in the future. The time is now.

  • Stop caring so much about what others think or will think of you. In the end, how you live your life only matters to you.

  • Seek a coach or a mentor to help you, they know the fastest way for you to get there.

Knowing exactly who you are, where you want to go, how you are going to achieve your goals and make your plans, both personal and professional, is the first and big step towards full realization. After all, your choices become more consistent, you get stronger and refreshed to face any challenge and overcome all adversity. You take the steering weel!

Lastly, following Charles Darwin's thinking about evolution, it is not the strongest that survives, but the one most adaptable to change. And it is only possible to shape yourself in the most varied circumstances when you know your essence deeply. As we have already pointed out, self-knowledge is the foundation for interpersonal relationships and can make you able to adapt to different types of situations. In this way, a great leader is born and his legacy will be lasting.

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