“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” – Socrates
I’ve always considered myself to have a fairly accurate self-image, compared to most people. Since I was a teenager, I’ve been been studying human behavior and constantly reflecting on my actions.
I believed this until I did an exercise with my career coach a few years ago. I was assigned to collect feedback about my character and general conduct from my friends, family and co-workers.
Initially, I perceived this task to be a little daunting because I was unsure if my skin was thick enough to hear their honest thoughts.After mustering up some courage, I scheduled calls with a list of 10 people I carefully complied.
I had my pen and notepad ready for each call and by the end, I had almost 8 pages of notes. It was an enlightening process that made me aware of untapped gifts that I wasn’t aware of and also some blind spots. This proved to be a powerful exercise because it provided me with useful feedback.
I later found out that there is a model in communication studies known as the Johari Window that supported this framework of identity. It illustrates that there are four key areas:
- a public self that is known to ourselves and others
- a private self known only to us
- an unknown self that is neither open to the public nor us
- a “blind spot”, which is what others know about us that we are not yet aware of ourselves
I believe that it would really serve us if we took on a similar measured approach towards understanding ourselves, whether it is through others’ feedback or insights from self-awareness tools and activities.
The idea is to probe deeper into the many unidentified contrasts and contradictions that lie within our interior world such as our emotions, physical health, our mind, motivation, desires, failings and habits.
If we invest the time in getting to know ourselves better, we could compile our very own “user’s manual” about who we are, how we work, and what makes us the unique individual that we are.
The only issue is that we don’t operate like machines. There’s so much more to us than what meets the eye. We have a spirit – an amorphous part of us that represents the essence of who we are.
The reality is that there are just way too many choices in the world today, and given our limited time and resources, it’s essential that we choose wisely based on foundation of self-knowledge.
That’s not to say that it’s an easy and straightforward process. The path of self-discovery requires an open mind, a willingness to engage in trial and error, and plenty of resilience to withstand failure.
We have to take some time out to step away from all the distractions and demands of our daily life. A readiness to take on a creative approach towards self-discovery is a essential.
Here a few creative ways that you can gain deeper understanding of your inner working:
1. Discover your archetypes: A term coined by Carl Jung, an archetype is defined as “a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches”. Each of us can relate to certain archetypical figures, such as the jester, the princess or the mystic. We see these archetypes in fables, mythological stories, and contemporary movies all the time. You can find a comprehensive list of archetypes on this website. Discovering your archetypes will give you an idea of the major themes of the roles you play in life and how you can tap into your strengths.
2. Engage in creative activities: Seeking a creative outlet to express our deepest expressions is a powerful way to give form to the unconscious intelligence that lies within us. Artists, musicians and writers will tell you how they are able to “find themselves” when they are in their creative flow while working on their craft. We don’t have to be in a conventionally creative career to engage in this form of self-discovery. We can always take up a hobby such as painting, dancing, singing, etc. to give our creative impulses a voice.
3. Travel: I’ve always considered travel to be a compelling way for expanding your awareness. It broadens your horizons by exposing you to different kinds of people and places. Your sphere of experiences expands, thereby giving you the opportunity to form connections and associations, which helps you see yourself and the world in a new light.
4. Esoteric sciences: The mystical world of astrology, tarot cards, tea leaf readings, runes and iChing can offer us a wealth of untapped information, which can offer us a deeper understanding of the key aspects of our personality that we wouldn’t be able to access through logical means. While this may not be way to go if you’re skeptical about these modalities, if you are willing to give them a try, you’ll find it be a fun and effective way to connect with the unknown parts of yourself.
5. Set challenges and take risks: Our toughest experiences often turn out to be our greatest learning experiences. By creating our own mini-quests that allow us to push our limits, we learn how to cope with pressure. When we have to tough it out and stretch ourselves to accomplish a goal, we’ll be shown sides of our personality that we wouldn’t see if we were coasting.
The next time you look into a mirror, really gaze into your eyes. You’ll notice your soul essence emerge. This is the real you, in it’s truest and purest expression!
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: After reading this article, what are some of the ways that you are willing to try to increase your self-awareness?
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