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The Importance of Understanding Yourself

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power...” ~ The Tao the Ching

How many of us can say, we know who we are, what we want, and why we want those specific things? At some points in the week, I find that I may be able to truthfully answer one of those questions. How can we realistically set goals, go about life and have successful relationship if we do not know who we are or what we want. To know yourself is the first priority! Not knowing yourself can lead to confusion. We tend to underestimate the importance of knowing ourselves. Many of us go through each day reacting to events and just getting by rather than making conscious choices based on who we are and what we want. When we do not know where we are headed, it is hard to set goals, to get motivated, and to determine the best course of action for our life. Before we can do any of these things, we must develop and establish Who We Are. To begin the process of learning yourself, we must begin to consider the following: - Become aware of your strengths, weakness, likes, and dislikes - Observe and become aware of your moods, reactions, and responses to what is happening to you and around you - Become aware of how your moods and emotions affect your state of mind and overall well-being - Examine how you interact with others - Observe how your environment affects you and your mood Knowing and understand yourself better, in turns, leads to your ability to make better decisions, setting and reaching your goals, along with ultimately living a more productive life. Knowing yourself is a journey. It is about discovering who you are as a human being - learning the “Real You.” The journey can and will be unpredictable and engages you deeply as it will bring you face-to-face with your deepest fears, self-doubts, vulnerabilities, and insecurities.

“All too often, we are strangers to ourselves. . . . It is in our relationships with others that we learn about ourselves.” ~ Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader(1989)

We inevitably gain self-understanding through our relationships, which can be startling mirrors to our strengths and weaknesses,as well as, our assets and insecurities. Challenges test us, and age in general inevitably reveals more. Life as it progresses has a way of showing what we are made of. Likewise, learning to accept oneself is one of the genuine gifts of growing older. The experience of self-discovery is undoubtedly a peak of its own. Moments of true realization can offer a surprising release from years of self-doubt or guilt. Self-realizations can shift the ground underneath us.

While self-knowledge leads us to a greater understanding of ourselves and how we relate to the world, it also helps us to understand why people relate to us the way they do. It gives us better judgment and the clarity to understand and gain insight into those around us. Our personal aim is to develop a deeper understanding of our self that then turns outward rather than inward and results in better understanding of others. Understanding ourselves and our own motivations can help us better appreciate the challenges others face. This, then, is the goal of coming to know ourselves: ultimately we look inward so that we might look outward with greater clarity, patience and compassion.

“ The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.” ~J. Paulsen



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