Let’s get to know you, the real you, not the one you think you need to be.
There’s more to knowing yourself than naming your favorite color or ice cream flavor.
Knowing "Who you are" means understanding what makes you the person you are. Your thoughts, beliefs, values, and behaviors. It’s about knowing what makes you tick, why you get out of bed in the morning, and what you value.
But first, why is it important to know yourself?
Maybe it’s obvious, but here, in a nutshell, are a few reasons why you might want to know yourself better, there are many benefits to being true to yourself:
- You’ll learn to accept and love who you are. Accepting who you are instead of trying to be someone everyone else expects you to be is huge. What makes you unique in your greatness to the people who value you will multiply exponentially.
- Able to let go of self-doubt. Self-doubt will hold you back from achieving the things you want the most. Conquering this demon by getting to know yourself is key.
- Your confidence will improve. The more confident you become, the more you are likely to pursue your dreams.
- Happiness. You will be happier when you can express who you are. Expressing your desires will make it more likely that you get what you want.
- Less inner conflict. When your outside actions are in accordance with your inside feelings and values, you will experience less inner conflict.
- Self-control. When you know yourself, you understand what motivates you to resist bad habits and develop good ones. You'll have the insight to know which values and goals activate your willpower.
- Resistance to social pressure. When you are grounded in your values and preferences, you are less likely to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”. You’ll know your self-worth.
- Tolerance and understanding of others. Your awareness of your own foibles and struggles can help you empathize with others.
- Vitality and attitude. Being who you truly are helps you feel more alive and makes your experience of life richer, larger, and more exciting.
- Better decision-making. When you know yourself, you are able to make better choices about everything, from small decisions like which sweater you’ll buy to big decisions like which partner you’ll spend your life with. You'll have guidelines you can apply to solve life’s varied problems.
- Self-compassion will come more easily. We are always our worst critics.
- The opinion of others will not bother you. As Les Brown says “Don't let someone else's opinion of you become your reality”
- You’ll form better relationships. When you know yourself you naturally attract people to that are aligned with your goals and dreams.
Now that you know that self-knowledge is worth having, we’ll move on to those "VITAL Signs" of self-knowledge.
Your VITALS - The building blocks of self-knowledge.
VITALS form an acronym for the six building blocks of self. The letters stand for Values, Interests, Temperament, Around-the-Clock, Life Mission and Goals, and Strengths/Skills.
- V = Values: “Values"—such as “helping others,” “being creative,” “health,” “financial security,” and so on—are guides to decision-making and motivators for goals. Research shows that just thinking or writing about your values can make it more likely that you take healthy actions. The motivation provided by worthwhile values can also keep you going even when you are tired, as shown in many psychology experiments. If you want to self-motivate, know your values!
- I = Interests: “Interests” include your passions, hobbies, and anything that draws your attention over a sustained period of time. To figure out your interests, ask yourself these questions: What do you pay attention to? What are you curious about? What concerns you? The focused mental state of being interested in something makes life vivid and may give you clues to your deepest passions. Many people have built a career around a deep interest in something.
- T = Temperament: “Temperament” describes your inborn preferences. Do you restore your energy from being alone (introvert) or from being with people (extrovert)? Are you a planner or go-with-the-flow type of person? Do you make decisions more on the basis of feelings or thoughts and facts? Do you prefer details or big Ideas? Knowing the answers to temperament questions like these could help you gravitate toward situations in which you could flourish and avoid situations in which you could wilt.
- A = Around-the-Clock Activities: The “around-the-clock” category refers to when you like to do things—your biorhythms. Are you a morning person or a night person, for example? At what time of day does your energy peak? If you schedule activities when you are at your best, you are respecting your innate biology.
- L = Life Mission and Meaningful Goals: “What have been the most meaningful events of your life?” Ask yourself the same question: “What have been the most meaningful events of your life?” You may discover clues to your hidden identity, to your career, and to life satisfaction.
S = Strengths: "Strengths" can include not only abilities, skills, and talents, but also character strengths such as loyalty, respect for others, love of learning, emotional intelligence, fairness, and more. Knowing your strengths is one of the foundations of self-confidence; not being able to acknowledge your own superpowers could put you on the path to low self-esteem.
Become a person who “takes in the good,” listening for compliments and noticing skills that could be clues to your strengths.
Being True to You
Even if you know your "VITAL Signs," it’s hard to remain true to yourself because you are constantly changing and because society’s values often conflict with your own. For all of us, being yourself sounds easier than it actually is.
This week, pay attention to these six aspects of your personality. What do you notice?
In your Journal, we ask a few key questions to help you discover your VITALS and discover your self-knowledge
They may seem silly, but give it a go. Your answers may surprise you.
It will also bring into focus all the awesome things that make you, you. All that makes you worthy of what your amazing life has to offer.
It could be one of the hardest or easiest exercises in your journal.
Picture credit: George Pagan III @gpthree
To clarify your values, take a look at my chapter on "The 8 Great Motivators:" Selig, M. Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success (Routledge, 2009).
Rubin, G. Better Than Before (Crown, 2015)