Last week I wrote about the importance of self knowledge and the benefits of knowing yourself at a truly deep level.
But how do we get there? What are some of the tools we can use for self-exploration?
There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic ~Anais Nin
A get to know yourself mini-guide
1. Know your values
Knowing and understanding the significance of values has become a key part of my work and a process that has been nicely streamlined thanks to working with U.S based life coach, Tim Brownson. (I would highly recommend his book Aligning with your Core Values, as a must have resource for any coaches bookshelf).
Most of us have an idea of what we value but there may not much clarity behind it. When we understand the significance of our values on our behavior, we can trust in them, much like a compass.
Living in accordance with our values means we are heading for our true north – the direction that is closest to our most ideal life.
Having a hierarchy in core values helps us to know which values fuel our fires and can help with decision making and managing interpersonal relationships.
What values are you able to compromise on and what ones are so high on your list, that compromising will inevitably lead to suffering and conflict? Is love more important to you than financial comfort? How might this come into play in your life? Do you value fun over success? Community over independance?
2. Keep a journal
The act of journaling can be a powerful tool for self-expression and exploration. Free writing in particular, nurtures the right hemisphere of our brain, where thinking outside the box and arriving at new ideas and solutions are found.
Journaling also provides us with a vehicle for learning something new, by analyzing our present or past.
I look at journaling as a great self-coaching tool, for creating a space where we are able to find our own answers. Instead of having our minds plagued with thoughts and worries we can write them down, work though them and learn something new.
3. Cultivate mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about expanding our self-awareness and paying attention without judgement.
I like to think of it this way – there is no one more interesting than the inner depths of you!
Be a scientist and take interest in what you think, feel and do. But, like a scientist, try to remain impartial.
One of the reasons mindfulness is so beneficial is that, for our experience to change, we have to first be aware of what our experience is!
If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s very difficult to do this, unless you are mindful of what you eat, what kinds of exercise you enjoy and what thoughts are preventing you from reaching your goal.
If you want to experience a higher level of connection with those around you, you need to explore what makes you feel connected to yourself and the world at large.
How can you change things if you are not fully aware of what it is you are dealing with and where you are starting from?
4. Practice self-compassion
The thing about cultivating mindfulness without judgement is that, when you become more in tune with your thoughts, the self-judgement intensifies!
It can be overwhelming to face the enormity of our own issues and we may be inclined to beat ourselves up over it.
This is when it’s crucial to practice self-compassion. To give ourselves a break, think kind thoughts and remind ourselves that we are looking for progress rather than perfection.
5. Become best friends with your body
I have spent more years of my life than I would care to admit to, treating my body like a traitor, an enemy or a separate part of myself. Someone I have abused, maimed and sadly mistreated.
But I’ve learnt that there is a complex relationship and inter-connectedness between the body, mind and spirit; one that deserves daily attention and care.
Become best friends with your body. Marvel at what it can do and don’t underestimate what you are capable of achieving with it’s form.
So many of the limits we place on our potential are self-imposed. If you think you are unable to run 5km or 10km, then you would be right.
If you tell yourself that you love music but are an awkward dancer, then you are missing out!
But, if you experiment and push yourself to explore different types of movement, you will eventually find something that fits your body like the beloved LBD and you will have escaped the confines of your own limitations.
Treat your body well. Listen to it when it is hungry, thirsty and tired, and understand your physical cues as much as your emotional ones.
Our bodies never lie.
So, how well do you know yourself? What is the one tool you can start using today, that will provide you with the most insight?