How To Know Yourself?

Know Yourself

Do you know yourself?

Yes, I know your answer is positive but my next question is: How much?

If you really know yourself, try writing down ten points each about your personality, aspirations and relationships, to understand what I am trying to say.

As we shed off our childhood and adolescent illusions and step into the real world, we realize that life is much more than just dreams and expectations.

First we have to define those concepts, break them into pieces and perceive what is going to work for us. We have to anticipate the range of our flight. It is at such a time that that we start understanding ourselves.

Knowing your real self begins with a journey within – a journey we never dare to undertake! We invent excuses, delude ourselves thinking we have no time; sometimes we may be genuinely too busy to introspect.

We live in compartments, we perform different roles, sometimes we have to pretend to be what we are not and thus we don’t pay much attention to our true selves.

In one of the interview sessions, the one basic question we asked the interviewees was: ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’

Invariably, they stumbled upon this question. They paused to think and could only mention one or two of them.

As I smiled at them to ease the situation, a serious dialogue would emanate in my mind. I snubbed it at those times to introspect in my leisurely hours, to understand why this was such a difficult question.

While I could come up with many answers so far as my own strengths were concerned, weaknesses would elude me and I had to think deeply to dig them out.

Probably we try to push our weaknesses under the carpet.

To know yourself, know your weaknesses and your fears even before you know your strengths. Those monsters of fear that we try to shove into the deepest crevices become empowered and keep lurking around the corners. The shadows of those fears dissipate only when we pull them out into light and talk to them.

To know yourself, try to answer the following questions:

  • How many fears are still lurking around you and how many have you buried temporarily?
  • How many lies do you tell yourself to satiate your ego?
  • How much have you learnt from your mistakes?
  • How much wisdom have you picked up from your surroundings?
  • How much of your laughter is genuine?

To know yourself,

  • You have to understand your emotions and capabilities and how far you can go to accomplish your goals,
  • How well you can handle your failures and your unfulfilled dreams,
  • How much you would like to acquire in terms of material possessions,
  • What are your boundaries,
  • How much do you care for the people around you

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” ~ Lao Tzuknow-yourself

Self-confabulation for knowing yourself:

We often talk to ourselves to clarify our doubts, to form our views and overcome the difficult situations. It is this conversation, which acquaints us with our real self. Our opinions are usually shaped by people around us – our parents, teachers, peers, friends…our own perceptions are drowned in their guidance and control.

Self-reflection melts the mist of this guidance. It unshackles us and encourages us to think freely, to think differently so that we can take the reigns of our real self in our own hands.

How Sharing helps:

The next step is to share your thoughts with your digital partner, which just listens calmly and makes you think further. It doesn’t dishearten or criticize, it lets you relax and reach at a conclusion at your own will.

Earlier I used to write my wishes and doubts in a journal but with the advent of smart phones, we don’t even have to reach for a pen!

Some thoughts just come and go, some dreams are quite impractical and some may be beyond our reach but by writing them down, we can ponder over them, trying to figure out whether they resonate with us and exhort them out of our system to feel better.

Our true selves, our potential and determination get revealed at such moments when we try to dissect our thoughts and emotions with our own self.

How Introspection helps:

Are you capricious? Do you get influenced by others’ expectations? If you feel that you are walking the path, which makes you wonder where you are heading…introspection on daily basis, before you step into the land of slumber, can really help.

At such moments we don’t have the intolerance or the prejudice working against our colleagues, friends and kindred who may have wronged us. We just have a calm and patient mind, free from all ill feelings to understand our reactions.

That inner voice, which we snub in the presence of others, is most active now and we too are more receptive. You can discover the reasons of your indecisiveness; know how much you revere your values and what is your real passion.

Freedom of thought and action lies at the core of knowing yourself. They play a significant role in our development too. I didn’t know myself till I got these opportunities.

If you have liked the above excerpt from my book Allow Yourself To Be A Better Person, please click on the link to read more.

How did you discover your real self? How important it is for you? I am waiting to hear from you.

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

-Balroop Singh

Do We Do Everything For Our Own Selves?

People do everything for their own self. When somebody said this to me long ago, I had dismissed the thought as useless banter, completely convinced that all we do is not just for ourselves. There are friends and family and bosses who receive our love, attachment and services.

I have seen my aunt working all day, doing all household chores with a smile, answering all my innocent questions why she didn’t get any time to rest and why she doesn’t get tired! She didn’t seem to work for her own self…one more convincing thought that reinforced that we don’t do everything for our own selves!!

Probably I wasn’t mature enough to understand or I didn’t want to. She worked all day because she didn’t have a choice. She had to make her place in the family she got married into. Those were the times when women who thought for themselves; got kicked out of the house they were married into.

This thought reverberated in my mind recently when I went to see a very sick friend who could barely recognize me or talk to me. As she lay there, struggling to talk to me in unrecognizable syllables, I felt so helpless. To be honest, I felt most uncomfortable and wanted to get out of her room as quickly as possible. I asked myself…‘what am I doing here?’

The answers that I tried to draw out of me were quite surprising and enlightening. ‘It was my moral duty.’ ‘I wanted to show I cared.’ ‘It was expected of me.’

All of them connected with me! Had I done this for my pride, my own ego and myself, in order to escape my own distress? Did I visit her for my own peace of mind?

Was it what experts call ‘psychological hedonism?’

Eager to seek more answers I went to the ultimate savior – ‘Google’ and discovered that Thomas Hobbes, the seventeenth century philosopher believed that ‘our self-interest reigns supreme in all our acts.’

I have spent many days pondering, watching, understanding and analyzing…small children grab and push to get their little goals accomplished, they refuse to share and have to be repeatedly told that sharing is a virtue. Siblings vie with each other to prove their worth, probably impelled by an innate competitive spirit.

Sportsmen do the same and even can hurt the players of another team to win.

We donate only those things, which we don’t need. Even those rich who donate liberally to exemplify their generosity make it a point to highlight their kind acts in one form or the other. All charity is done to satisfy our own ego, to gain recognition, fame and respect.

Are empathy, compassion and altruism mere words, which may compel us to put up a façade of humanity to alleviate the agony of others?

All we do for others can be summarized under three headings:

  • Moral duty, which we have to perform for our family and friends
  • Expectations of others to show that we are successful and working
  • Self-satisfaction

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley

All spiritual gurus and scriptures tell us that attachments are mere illusions. The sooner we detach ourselves from worldly possessions, the better it would be!

This paradox of accomplishing and then giving up with a smile and satisfaction has always confounded me.

Just look within and introspect! Ask this question to your inner self: ‘what have I done for others?’ I know many answers would crop up immediately but consider before blurting out…was it selfless? Did you do any good without expectations?

I agree with David Hume, “ There is some benevolence, however small, infused into our bosom; some spark of friendship for human kind; some particle of the dove, kneaded into our frame, along with the elements of the wolf and the dove.”

We have been trying to evolve into better beings. Good thoughts do influence us. Positivity does bring the best out of us but we need constant reminders so that those elements of ‘wolf,’ which are kneaded into our DNA, can be kept under wraps.

Many questions remain unanswered. Let’s discuss them in the comments section.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.