How well do you know yourself? Be honest. Was your response to that question a knee-jerk reaction or was it the result of having spent time thinking about your values and behaviors?
My experience has been that I can’t really get to know myself unless I spend quiet time thinking about my values, my behaviors and questioning whether they are congruent. It’s through these quiet times…which I allot daily…that enable me to get a deeper understanding of who I am and where I’m headed.
Benefits of knowing yourself
The benefits of knowing yourself include:
- Being more confident and comfortable with the choices you make.
- Better understanding of others’ behavior.
- Developing deeper, richer relationships quickly.
Let’s examine each of these in greater detail.
People who are intimately aware of their values find it easier to make choices because they are driven by their values and clear about what violates those values. This knowledge makes it easier for them to decide what to do in any situation. As a consequence, they are confident and comfortable with the choices they make.
There is a commonality to our humanity that enables us, once we get to know ourselves, to understand the behaviors of others including their doubts, fears, anxiety, judgments and behaviors as well as their joy, excitement and sense of purpose.
This understanding enables us to help others through their challenges by sharing experiences and offering words of encouragement. Through these shared experiences we help them see that they are not alone, that their experience is not unique and that others’ have overcome the challenge they face and they can too.
By demonstrating our belief in them, we give them the confidence and courage to move past their fear toward an effective solution to the challenge they’re facing.
The confidence you gain in knowing yourself combined with the compassion that comes from understanding what others’ are experiencing enables you to develop deep relationships with others. They quickly trust you because you are candid with them about your own experiences and how you overcame the challenges you’ve faced. You also highlight their strengths which they often overlook during times of distress.
People whom you help will never forget you. Indeed, they’ll look for ways to help you in any way they can. Personally, I can’t recall the last time I had to ask anyone for help because they offer it before I have a chance to ask.
That’s not my motivation for helping others. The psychic rewards I get from helping others is more than enough for me. Their offers to help me are an added bonus…one that I treasure for the kindness and generosity implicit in their offers to help.
If you’re not taking some time each day to reflect on your experiences, what you learned from them, what you’d do differently in the future or what you’d continue to do because it worked so well, begin doing so. Set aside just fifteen minutes a day to get to know yourself better. Choose someplace where you won’t be disturbed.
If you feel that your life is too hectic to set aside fifteen minutes a day, understand that the hectic nature of your life is of your own creation…based on the choices you’ve made.
There were times in my life when I overcommitted. I do that far less frequently today because during a quiet time I realized that I wasn’t just harming myself and my family, I was making life difficult for those whom I let down. All because I didn’t realize that by overcommitting I was hurting others as well as myself. Choosing quiet time helped me avoid this behavior and made my life and the lives of those with whom I interact easier and more enjoyable.
Absent the quiet time, I doubt that I’d have come to that realization. I’d have just felt that life was hectic without realizing my contribution to the chaos I was creating.
For our kids
Don’t hesitate to let your kids know that you’re going to take some quiet time to reflect on your day and that you’d appreciate it if they wouldn’t interrupt you during that time. You may have to enforce that in the beginning, especially with younger kids who don’t yet have familiarity with the concept of time, but they’ll quickly catch on.
Over time, they may question what you’re doing which opens the door to a discussion that will serve them well throughout their lives. Who knows, they may choose to align their quiet time to yours. Wouldn’t that be fun?
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Hi Dale, As usual your articles provide interesting insight into every day practical matters.
Somewhere along the line I heard about a term called Intellectual Honesty (having a high standard for the truth). I try to hold myself accountable to that high standard. One tool that I use is to differentiate between what I know (thorough first-hand experience) and what I think I know (from the media or from other’s experiences).
Getting to truly know ourselves seems to be a life-long pursuit!
Indeed, Bill, getting to know oneself is a life-long pursuit…or at least, should be in my opinion. The benefits are huge in relation to the time investment. That time investment becomes smaller as we become more aware of who we are and more adept at analyzing our behavior in relation to what we’re experiencing.
With regard to intellectual honesty, I have not previously heard that term. I do, however, agree with your approach. I know that you analyze what you’re experiencing in light of your behavior in order to gain insights into how you are contributing to what you’re experiencing whether that be joy or challenge.
Given the level of bias and misinformation both in “news” reporting and social media today, your skepticism toward the media and others’ experiences is healthy. It always has been a healthy approach, just more so in today’s environment.
As always, I appreciate your insights and know that For Our Kids readers do as well.