How to Get to Know Yourself Better: 3 Great Tips

by Henrik Edberg


Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/ / CC BY 2.0

“He who knows others is learned;
He who knows himself is wise.”

Lao-tzu

Who are you? What is your daily and weekly life really about?

Those not always easy questions to answer. So today I’d like to share three tips that have helped me to get to know myself a bit better and to see my life more accurately.

1. What part of you do you see in them?

What we see in others is quite often what we see in ourselves. And what irritates us in people may be what we don’t like in ourselves. What you judge in someone you are actually judging in yourself.

Therefore what you notice and what irritates you in others can teach you important things about yourself. Things you may not be aware of. In a way people can be like a mirror for you. A mirror that can help you to learn more about yourself, what you fear and how you may be fooling yourself.

So, what people generally irritate you? What do you often judge or criticize people for?

What can that tell you about you?

2. Do the unusual thing.

When faced with a choice in your daily life, step back for a minute and think. Then take the option that is and feels unusual for you.

If you often back down just don’t for this one time. If you often get into arguments with people then just this one time don’t and instead just let it go or treat the other person with kindness. Do the opposite of what you usually do and see what happens (while using common sense of course). Do something new and something you wouldn’t expect from yourself.

This is a fun and great way to get new experiences and to learn things about the world and about yourself that you wouldn’t if you kept going like you usually do. It’s also a great way to be surprised about life as things often turn out more positively than in your fear filled daydreams if you just take action.

Getting stuck in the same old routine until it becomes a rut can suck the life out of you. Doing the unusual thing in small and big situations, no matter how it goes, is a great way to feel alive again and to reveal aspects of yourself that may have been hidden from you.

3. Journal.

Journaling is a fine way to get a more accurate picture of yourself and your life. A few ways that I have used journaling to get to know myself and my life are:

  • Journal about how you use your time. Just write down what you do during one day. Or during one week. Write down what you spend your time on and how much time you spend on each thing. You may, as me, be surprised about how much time you waste on procrastinating and pretty pointless busy work. Even if you may have an image of yourself as an effective person.
  • Journal about what you think. What do you think about during a normal day? Or a week? Write it all down. By doing so you can find recurring patterns of thought such as fears or maybe that you spend a lot of time regretting what happened in the past. Or you may find that you are actually a more positive person than you may think. This is a really interesting exercise because it can help you spot both positive things and negative things about yourself and just how accurate your current image of yourself is. You’ll probably run into some surprises.
  • Journal about what you eat. I used this to lose weight. If you want to lose weight you have to consume less calories that you use. So how do you know what to eat and how much? You got to monitor it in some way. I used the free and very simple Fitday.com to monitor what I eat during the day. This is essential stuff. Because the three normal and most of the time actually pretty healthy meals I ate in the past consisted of the same amount of calories I used during the day. So little progress was made. To keep things within effective and healthy limits I think it’s important to monitor what you do. But not to get obsessed about these things though. The main point is to keep an eye on what you are actually doing instead of guesstimating a whole lot.

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{ 15 comments }

Deys March 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Very good article.
I think that the idea of a journal is very good for personal development.
You literally change by logging in anything you journal about, even if you at first you resist the change.
I did this for waking up early. I just wrote the time I woke up. For the first month almost nothing happened. But when I logged in the second month I automatically competed against my previous time and after that it got better and better. Finally I was able to wake up early.

Clinton Skakun March 19, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Number 1 is pretty eye-opening. Never thought of that one before.

Brian March 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

OK I can recall whatever you told that what annoys me with others, doing unusual and I know a lot about myself………How will it help me if I know myself more.

Lucky Balaraman March 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

And to get to know your REAL self better, spend 10 minutes a day trying to find out who is aware of your thoughts…

Daniel Johnston March 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Awesome tips Henrik! It amazes me how much people don’t know about even themselves. It’s funny when people criticize others for something they are guilty of themselves. I feel like I know myself pretty well, but I would love to know what others think of me. That would be very revealing.

Baker March 20, 2010 at 2:14 am

I like the “do an unsual thing.” It seems when are out doing something creative that is not “comfortable” at first we begin to learn more about ourselves and expand. Nice post!!!

Hulbert March 20, 2010 at 3:22 am

Hey Henrik, pretty cool post. I like how you mentioned that when we judge other people, we are often judging ourselves too in a way. We can use this to to help us out instead of just going about in our day. For example, by being aware of the flaws we think other people have, it can help us get rid of some of the flaws that we may have ourselves if we don’t want to be like them. I think overall, just noticing the small things that we do can help us get to know ourselves better so that we can improve ourselves for the future.

Bent Tien March 20, 2010 at 5:33 am

I always do the second one… It really useful and help us to open minded..

Boris March 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Henrik,
Good advices! I would modify your advice “Do the unsual thing” as “Consider to do the unusual thing”.
In this way you can see the things in a more creative way. After this, you will choose the best option, which doesn’t have to be the unusual.
Best regards,
Boris

Armen Shirvanian March 21, 2010 at 2:13 am

Hi Henrik.

You bring up a valid point about checking for recurring themes. When we are thinking the same thought multiple times a day, it is worth putting some effort in related to that item.

Getting stuck in a certain routine sure does seem to remove energy.

Cath March 22, 2010 at 12:21 am

Journaling really helps to get to know yourself better, my personal growth has improved a lot since I started doing it.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga March 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

I especially love the insight of #1. The way we see others tells us much more about ourselves than it does about them.

Nacho Jordi March 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

#1 is oh so true. In psychoanalysis it is called “projection”: there is a part of you that you cannot accept, so you use the others as a “screen” and project it upon them. It is very tricky to catch yourself doing that…
Great article

Tasneem R March 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hi..yes the blog was a good read and the things you’ve told in it are really useful ! I mean just by reading I know that ! The first point which you’d mentioned that what we don’t like in others may be something we don;t like in ourselves . So that way we can correct ourselves . Also what you said about doing unusual stuff in daily life can actually unleash our real self and our potential and capabilities. You’re blog post is by all means very useful for me and everybody I presume .
Here’s a site called http://www.3smartcubes.com/ It has got range of Phd certified tests on Personality . Here’s a personality test very apt to the theme of your post .
How Well Do You Know Yourself? — This test aims at discovering how well you know yourself.
http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/selfawareness/selfawareness_instructions.asp

Hope that’s useful for you and for your readers.

Mary March 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hi all
This is really interesting. The number 1 part about seeing your negative aspects in others by noticing what you dont like about them, oh so true! I withdrew a huge projection that I had carried most of my life by doing this. I felt unwell for several days after I made the realisation, because I realised what a hypocrite I have been all my life so far. I was critisizing this person (and feeling sanctimonious about it into the bargain!) and doing the exact same thing myself in a different way. What a revelation, and it has been life changing. I guess thats what the term blind spot means. However, it has opened a thirst for more self knowledge.

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