Why know yourself?
For one, because it is the first step to living your best life; be it your business, your health, your mind, your spirit or even your hobbies. We all know that it is difficult to get to know someone who lies to us; it is mostly impossible to know them. I remember overhearing someone saying to another person ‘you can’t have a relationship with someone who lies’; I find that statement thought provoking because if you don’t know what is true and what’s not how can you be authentic with the person. The same is true with ourselves. If we lie to ourselves it is mostly impossible to know ourselves.
How do we know when we are lying to ourselves or about our lives? The lies are often so well hidden that it is very difficult to unearth them. If we observe our habits and our explanations we might notice our lies. Often it is the way we conduct ourselves around others, pretending to be happy, or content with status quo, or pretending to agree. Pretense is a big one. It becomes habitual and a way of life. Sometimes we pretend when we are scared to face something or do something. Normally we desperately want to do something but the fear of failure or being ridiculed overcomes us and we tell ourselves we are not ready yet (deep down what we think is that we are not perfect yet) or we tell ourselves and others that we don’t have the time (by filling our time with small repetitive jobs or checking Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, playing games etc.) We believe we are too busy but we are not really living a full life; we are blocking ourselves from the dreams and desires we have. I found something I wrote in 2014:
- Happy is the person that has the internet at their fingertips but who is able to resist checking social media all the time. They have it under their control and are able to succeed in living.
- Woe is the person who is controlled by the internet day and night, searching for affirmation. They don’t get any sleep or rest and land up with a life of nothingness.
I have been there, that is why I wrote it.
Other times we land up pleasing others to the point that we don’t even know what we want anymore. There is nothing wrong with making others happy and being helpful but not at the expense of your own needs. We are equal and our needs are equal but often we don’t know what it is we want from life because we have pushed our desires deep down. It can be another way of running from ourselves.
If we do this to ourselves we won’t know who we are. It is as simple as that. I find there are two keys to knowing myself: Time and honesty. If you want to know yourself better you need to spend time with yourself just like you would do if you wanted to know someone else better. Spend time with yourself. Sometimes we are afraid of what we will find and so it is easier to keep busy.
When I was recovering from my double mastectomy, in 2012, I had lots of time on my hands. It was like a forced retreat. I felt like a queen the way I was being looked after by family and friends. I had lots of time to think and observe life. I had two phrases that I found helpful: ‘open spaces’ and ‘slow time’. Imagine being in the wild, like the Serengeti or Savanna grasslands in Africa: it is wide open as far as the eye can see. There is space to move, run, fly, and dance. There is freedom and no rules. That for me is what my open space is like. Now imagine a movie or a song that has been slowed down in speed – everything moving slowly, low voices slurring. Slow motion, slow time. It becomes easy to observe the details.
If you combine the two phrases I think of it as a slow dance. The music has a slow beat keeping the time and there is open space for you to dance. Once you are in this slow dance with self your tools of awareness, noticing and honest observation help you to see your actions and identify your desires. These tools also help you in the changes you need to make. This is easier to do in a slow state when you have time and give yourself space. Once you begin to get honest with yourself the sky is the limit. It is self-limiting beliefs and fears, restrictions and habits that keep you from living your best life. This is the start to knowing yourself and living your best life.
A warm smile,