Knowing Who You Are

Bill Abbate

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How well do you know yourself? This is a serious question everyone should ask sooner than later in life. One thing life has taught me over many years is there is always more to learn about myself. Always.

I have yet to meet a single person, regardless of age, who does not continue to discover things about themselves. And I am talking about people well into their 80s! If someone that age is still learning things about themselves, what makes us any different?

You can also ask this question about the world. How well do you know the world? If you are like me, you realize a lifetime of discovery would barely scratch the surface of what there is to know.

Taking this line of inquiry even further, though we can gain much knowledge over a lifetime, how well do we understand what we know about anything? If we never fully understand ourselves, how can we ever understand others, much less everything else in the world?

"Ninety per cent of the world's woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves - so how can we know anyone else?" Sydney J. Harris

A few more questions to consider are:

  • How much meaning can you make of what you know?
  • How in tune are you with your emotions?
  • How well do you understand the continuing impact of childhood on your life?
  • How well do you understand the impact other people have had on you?
  • How are others impacting your life in the present?
  • What is your impact on others?

Can anyone ever know themselves?

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self." Benjamin Franklin

Back to the subject of how well you know yourself. As you can see, there is more than one way to learn about yourself. As you age, you add more to your total self, making yourself ever more complex.

What happened up to my 40s added to the total, making me know my more complex self less than when I was ten. Although looking back, I didn't know myself that well at ten or any age until I opened my eyes to this fact! Add your 50s and 60s to the rest of your life, and how well you know yourself becomes potentially more complex and further diluted!

You can study yourself regularly and deeply and know yourself better than the average person, and I could still ask you how well you know yourself because you are that complex.

Think about how many ways we can know ourselves. A few of these ways include physiological, psychological, sociological, emotional, spiritual, and who knows how many other ways!

How can you learn to know yourself better?

Following are several questions you can ask yourself to begin or continue this lifelong journey of knowing yourself. I have attempted to list only more significant life-impacting areas as the list could be nearly endless if it included everything. The questions are in groups to shorten the list.

  • How do I see myself? Is my view of myself the same as how others see me? How is it different? How is it the same?
  • What are my strengths? What is my top strength? What strength could I improve most? Which strength impacts my life the greatest?
  • What are my weaknesses? Do I have any weaknesses I could turn into a strength? How can I shore up my weaknesses?
  • Do I see myself in a positive or negative light most of the time? What things do I view in a positive way, and why? What things do I view in a negative way, and why?
  • What value do I create in the work I do? Is the value worth what I am paid, or is it worth more or less? What can I do to increase the value I create?
  • What are the absolutes in my life? Those things I value so much I would die for them, the things I refuse to do or be a part of? What are my values?
  • If I could accomplish one thing in my life, what would it be? What, if anything, is keeping me from following my heart's desire?
  • How good a spouse am I? Where could I improve? How can I improve?
  • How much stress do I have in my life? What is creating the most stress in my life? In what areas of my life does stress exist? What am I worrying about that will never happen? What can I do to lower my stress?
  • How much peace do I have in my life, and in what areas? What can I do to create more peace in my life?
  • How is my spiritual life? Do I feel safe spiritually? Do I know what spiritual truth is and how it impacts my life? What do I want to do about it? What will I do about it?

The above questions are a small part of what we can ask ourselves but are a great place to start. Why not take a notepad or your journal and explore your life a little by asking yourself even one of the questions? What better time is there than now to get to know yourself better?

Final words

It pays to know yourself as well as you possibly can. Knowing yourself better will add to your life considerably. The better you come to know yourself, the better you can create your desired future. You can make better decisions, achieve more, develop better relationships, find more peace and joy, and in general, live a better and more fulfilling life.

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." Aristotle

Who better to get to know you than yourself? You are the only person in the world you can be completely open and honest with, so why not gain as much wisdom as you can by getting to know yourself better!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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