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To thine own self be true. – Shakespeare

Know yourself, that is the First Step to Getting What You Want.

Long time ago, while I was in high school, I ‘came up’ with this formula to success. Very simple stuff, nothing fancy. It was a quick 3 step process:

  1. know what you want,
  2. calculate the cost,
  3. pay the price.

Simple. My entire spiel on getting what you want essentially boils down to that 3-step process.

But it is difficult to know what you truly want if you have not come to terms with who you are.

In a world that constantly tries to pressure you to conform to a box, or put up a front, understand that you are incredibly and wonderfully unique and you have something to contribute.  It is ultimately your responsibility to journey inward and connect with your true self.

A tremendous amount of our problems come from the fact that we hardly sit down to connect with ourselves. We get too busy acting, too busy chasing – a goal, an object, a person, a relationship. We seek to become complete or find some sort of fulfillment in all these things. And yet, the one thing we need to do is to go inward.

In all of time, no one else can or will be ‘you’. The combination of the times, your environment, your DNA, your soul all work together to this specific expression. You are a miracle worth celebrating, worth exploring.

On the long road of growth, self-awareness is the first step. You have to be able to recognize your thoughts, emotions, motivation and beliefs. Once you can observe what’s going on inside you, you are able to change your perspective, and then in turn change your actions.

The alternative is going through life without understanding yourself, how you tick, what belief systems and patterns are running amuck in your subconscious. You become essentially enslaved to your emotions and environment. You fall into a state where your efforts to move forward are perpetually frustrated, because you have not done the internal work to know yourself and clear the internal obstacles.

That is the typical state of things for most people. We want to rise up to new levels, and grow, and achieve and be successful, but we are held back by so many internal demons, so much conditioning, the bonds of our environment that we end up taking a few steps forward and multiple steps backward. We remain resigned to mediocrity.

It’s only with self-awareness that one can journey closer to a state of “self-congruence” — in which what we say, think, and feel are consistent. – Anthony Tjan

You have to know yourself. There is still a small voice inside, you know it, the one that somehow truly, deeply knows what you are meant to become. It is comforting to want someone else to have the answers, it is nice to follow a guru. Learn from others, but you must also connect with and nurture that core within, that inner voice.

When you are in tuned with what you are feeling, with what inspires you, you begin to form a kind of internal guidance system that leads you towards your true goals and your greatest contribution.

This inner voice is hard to hear sometimes. It tends to get drowned out. If not by the world around us and media, it gets drowned out by our own beliefs and insecurities. It is too easy to go through life with ambitions that we have absorbed and carry around that are not really ours. They are the imprint of society’s programing; the whispers of the dreams other people have placed on us. In the midst of all this input, you have to do the work to coax out that inner voice.

Know your strengths and weaknesses, know your personality. Know what makes you come alive, know what you want, what you REALLY want. Know who you are, and what you want. Then you can start making moves in that direction.

Not that you will always be right. We are prone to error. You can completely feel something right now, an emotion that is overwhelming and is your absolute truth in that moment and still not be right. But being acutely aware of it, of what is going on, you are at least able to make a conscious choice.

Becoming more self-aware is really an increase in consciousness. If you want to win, if you want to grow, you have to become more conscious. Your sphere of awareness must start with a knowledge of self, and then expand to knowledge of the people around you and your environment. When your consciousness and awareness increases, you can start to wake up, stop drifting and make concrete bold decisions towards your aims.

As you become more self-aware, you learn to love, embrace, accept and affirm yourself. Media always makes us feel like we need to be someone else. Self-awareness allows you to become you.

Of course, it is not easy. It is never easy. We are not very logical, we are messy complex creatures. We have so many biases, so many shortcomings, so many ways we deceive ourselves. Sometimes that self-delusion is healthy, it can spur us to action, to attempting things we really have no business attempting.

However, a lot of that is dangerous. We’ve all seen people who are so convinced they can sing that they end up rocking the wooden mic awards at Idols. Self-awareness allows you to must clear the fog of self-deception and get to know yourself for who you are…warts and all. Then you will have a chance of winning.

So enough of all that, what are some practical ways you could deepen your self-awareness:

  1. Meditation

It is amazing the lengths people would go to avoid stopping and listening to themselves. It is important to sit down, journal, meditate, do whatever you need to slow down, quieten the noise in your head and get to know yourself.

Every now and again, especially when you are distraught and stressed and in emotional turmoil, sit down in a quiet room alone, dim the lights if you can, sit comfortably and just be with yourself. Let your thoughts bubble up and subside. Sit and observe your internal environment. Get to know what’s going on inside you.

  1. Journaling

Get a notebook, or an app and every day write down a few pages of just stream of consciousness or considered reflection of your day. As you do this over time, you start to observe themes or points of concern emerge.

  1. Therapy

Working with a qualified practitioner can be a great way to get to know yourself, heal repressed trauma and change your behavior. I know there is a stigma around seeking therapy and admitting you need help sometimes, but the investment would be well worth it.

Experiment, try out things. You would never discover new things about yourself like the depths of resources you possess without putting yourself in new and alien situations. That’s why travel and exploration are so important. It is hard to know, truly know yourself without the fire of experience. 

  1. Seek Feedback

Talk to the people around you, and get some feedback of what they think about you. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. More often than not, our friends and colleagues have a perspective on us that would be completely oblivious to us otherwise, or allows us to frame a personality trait more effectively.

  1. Personality Tests.

As unique as you are, there are general archetypes to the human psyche. Taking any one of the various personality tests available out there can be very powerful and at least give us frame works to understand our behavior and the behavior of others.

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” ― C.G. Jung

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