(Listen to this page)
So what do I mean by understanding yourself? Well to understand yourself is to know thyself, to know who you are, and what you want to do in life. And to understand yourself I believe it is important to incorporate three sub-aspects, or themes. One is to heal yourself, the second is to find your true self, and the third is to find your purpose. I believe these three together can help you understand yourself. And I start with Heal Yourself for a reason. Let’s look into it!
If you haven't healed yourself sufficiently, then it's hard to find your true self or to find your purpose. Say, for example, you still have coping strategies that you are carrying around with you that don't serve you anymore. And maybe you even deeply identify with them. To overcome those coping mechanisms you have to heal that part of yourself. Or else you will make it really difficult to even get to finding your true self, covered beneath all that cope.
Do you accept and love yourself?
A crucial aspect of healing yourself is learning to love and accept yourself. If you can't accept yourself and love yourself, then it's painful to be open to who you really are. You'll feel like an imposter all of the time.
Do you sabotage yourself?
Ever feel like things are going well and then suddenly you start falling into old negative patterns again? It could very well be that you’re sabotaging yourself. The reasons could be plenty, but a few common ones are that you may fear success, or even feel you don’t deserve it.
Are you still carrying resentment?
Another big one is to notice if you are still carrying resentment. Is there still something that feels unjust or wrong? Regardless of whether it is or isn’t fair if you identify with that feeling it’ll run through everything you do in life. You’ll be led by anger instead of love. It would make it an uphill battle to try and understand yourself.
Find Your True Self
I think we go through life with a mask on, and we identify as that mask. This mask, or our ego you could say, is attached to all kinds of things. Those desires come from the fact that you need desires to survive. So it is a survival mechanism. But it’s not a mechanism that solves for happiness, peace, love, and clarity. It solves for survival. But what is something that does solve for those good things? Well, if you can find your true self, beneath that ego, then you clearly see that there always is love, happiness, and peace within you. It’s very difficult to get there though, so it helps to ask yourself some questions.
What are you good at?
One aspect of finding your true self is to find out what you’re good at. It is often said that mastery can lead to enlightenment (of who you are). Finding out what you’re good at may help you in realizing your potential, in what you here on earth for.
What do you love doing?
A question I keep going back to is asking what you love doing. Disregard money, status, power, other people’s judgments, your own judgments even. Then think back to a moment, maybe as a kid, where you were so enthralled with something you were doing that you completely lost time. When you find that, you find a core part of who you are. And after that, if you can bring it into your daily life, you really live true to yourself.
What do you feel is true about you and what isn’t?
We all have assumptions about ourselves, many of which have been placed upon us by our society, by our parents, friends, family, and teacher. Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself which of these feel true and which don’t? Why, why not? Maybe you are not really who you think you are? Maybe you have gifts that you’re not using because your assumption about yourself doesn’t align with your true self?
Find Your Purpose
The last theme within Understanding Yourself is how to find your purpose. Which is the place where it all comes together. To understand yourself is to know what your purpose is. Say you healed yourself and found your true self, i.e., you know what you’re good at, and know what you love doing, what next steps do you take to find your purpose and apply yourself to it?
What do you fear most?
Oftentimes what we fear most is related to what we (secretly) aspire to. As fear and love are opposites, you might even say that you should just pursue the opposite of what you fear most. This is a little too short of a conclusion, probably, but you get the idea. Say you’ve always feared what people would think of you when you’d write a book, letting out your creative juices. Maybe you fear it because you fear the rejection by others of something that is truly you, the part that wants to write creative stuff.
How are you filling your God-shaped hole within you?
As humans, we have an innate need to seek meaning. This God-shaped hole is something we can fill with all kinds of things, in the past it was mainly through religion, for example. But nowadays, in a relatively Godless society, we fill it more and more with political ideologies, status, money, and power. I think it’s key to figure out how you are currently filling that God-shaped hole and see if there’s a better way. I.e., what is it that you get meaning out of in life and is actually a contribution to yourself and others?
What would you regret not having done?
You're looking back on your life when you’re on your deathbed at 99. What comes to mind when you ask that question to yourself? It’s probably not “I regret not having made $5 million instead of $1 million” (at least I hope so). What is it that you would absolutely regret NOT having done when you’re talking to your grandkids on your deathbed? Is it writing that book? Creating a business? Raising a family? Living in another country? So what is it?
There are many other points within these themes that I want to (and will!) cover. But I feel these are the Big™ ones!