I’ve never been terribly introspective

That never bothered me much until I began, already well into my fifties, to explore the power of connection and realize those who seem to be the most centered and happy have invariably done a great deal of inner excavation. They’ve learned to know themselves well and, for the most part, have come to love and accept themselves, warts and all. I understand this intellectually, but it doesn’t come naturally, so I’ve been researching how others have come to know themselves better. This is the beginning of my exploration, and I’ve made no attempt to list these in any order of priority or preference. I’ve experimented with most of these at one time or another, but I would be well-served to focus on them more closely.

Ways to get to know yourself better

  • Ask yourself a few key questions, such as the ones below, and think about the answers. After you have an answer, keep digging and ask yourself why you feel that way? Pretend you’re getting to know someone you’ve just met and think about the questions you’d ask them.
    • What makes me happy?
    • What’s my favorite color?
    • What’s my favorite food?
    • What kinds of people do I enjoy the most?
    • Where would I go if I could go anywhere?
    • Do I enjoy solitude or company?
    • What really gets on my nerves?
    • What work do I find most fulfilling?
    • What’s my best personality trait?
    • What’s my worst personality trait?
    • What do people compliment me on?
    • What do I most dislike about myself?
  • Journal. You’ll get more out of your inner excavation if you journal as you go along. Not only does writing slow you down and make you think about things more deeply, but it provides a record of what you were thinking and feeling at the time—a snapshot, if you will, that can be enormously illuminating later when you see how much you might have changed (or not). Marnie Pehrson, successful author and online business woman, says her journals have given her tremendous insight into herself as well as provided a wonderful resource for some of her books.
  • Get an objective assessment. Examples include the Myers-Briggs Personality Type test (through a certified trainer, or Click Here for a free personality test) and Lisa Rae Preston’s Step Into Destiny test to identify your core brilliance. There’s a new book out by Sally Hogshead called How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination that might also give you some insight on how you’re perceived by others. For a limited time, you can take the Project Fascination Test for free:
    1. Go to: http://www.howtheworldseesyou.com/you
    2. Enter the code BL-Heartspoken and create a user account with your name, password, and email address.
    3. Complete the assessment. (It takes 5 minutes.) You’ll immediately receive your in-depth, custom report, which identifies your personality advantage.
  • Examine how you spend your time. This will give you insight to what your priorities are. Determining whether your time expenditure is in or out of synch with your values can be enormously illuminating.
  • Pay attention to your self-talk. Being aware of this can help you break the bad habit of negative self-talk.
  • Pay attention to your strong emotions. When you feel very happy, very sad, very paranoid, or very angry, allow yourself time to think about why you feel that way and whether it is appropriate or not. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself how you might have contributed to the situation or might have mitigated it.

Self knowledge vs. self-absorption

I used to confuse these two, but I’m now convinced that self-knowledge and the exercise of getting to know oneself better are not at all the same thing as self-absorption. There is ample evidence from psychology and counseling professionals that self-knowledge is an important component of mental health.

Have you found ways to know and like yourself?

If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Or join the conversation at my Facebook Page. Keep in mind that learning about yourself is a journey, not an event. Regardless of your age, it is a life-long process of excavation that can uncover many hidden gems.

Photo Credit: “Portrait of a beautiful woman questioning” by Igor via Dollar Photo Club
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