Self-awareness is one of the greatest superpowers that we are imbued with as human players in this physical world. Feelings like guilt, meta perspective, and transpositional thinking are all mental tools that we use and that separate us out from the animals around us. Now many of us focus our actions on the things we do that affect others, but the main point of this article is: how do we interact with ourselves? Because as we all know here, how well can you really interact with others if you don’t even know who you are? And that is what we seek to tackle here today.
The simple fact of the matter is that a deeper understanding of yourself is one of the major pursuits that humans have cherished since elevated thought became laudable. And the truth of the matter is that knowing yourself better has a myriad of benefits. Understanding how you learn best, what pisses you off, and where you derive reward and enjoyment for can stave off feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and depression. In short, there are almost limitless benefits from knowing yourself and the time you spend learning more about your own psyche is always well spent. To this end there are a few fields in which we can solidly separate out what exactly you need to know about yourself and how to find that out.
Knowing your own personality:
Know what pushes your buttons and what triggers different emotions within you. Focus on how you “feel” and not “likes and dislikes”. I.E. “I feel upset because of this” not “I don’t like it when you do this”
Self-Regulation: Manage your emotional responses to these triggers. If anything your first reaction should be peaceful serenity. Then mold your reactions into methods of getting what you want, maintaining a good reputation, or keeping control of a situation. Avoid activities that trigger negative emotions. Avoid the urge to rant.[KK1] While you may be justified in your remarks, it does you no good to make multiple enemies just by “speaking your mind” if the input isn’t asked for.
o Keep track of what face you put on for different people in your lives. Everyone is a different self at different times[KK2] . You are not the same you in front of your classmates as you are at home on the weekend by yourself. With that being said, everyone has a different perspective on the “real” you. Yes, there is a core personality there that tinges peoples’ overall perspective of you (if you’re outgoing at work, chances are you’re also gregarious at home). But really and truly, we adjust ourselves to the audience we’re in front of.
However, at the end of the day, we all pretend to be different around different people. There are few people that we can ever truly be “ourselves” around. Because we’re neurotic beings. We’re selfish, sociopathic, capricious, milqtoast individuals. If someone gives us the freedom to be ourselves, we’ll take full advantage of it. And more often than not we’ll end up abusing them. And disrespecting them. And no one respects anyone who lets you treat them like a human punching bag. We should be the best version of ourselves in front of others, not “ourselves”[KK3] . It’s only by doing this that we truly realize the actual potential incipient within us when we hold ourselves to a higher standard that others put to us, rather than debasing ourselves to our most comfortable lowest standards we’d prefer to settle in.
When you find yourself getting angry or upset, take a moment and analyze why. Usually the answer is pretty simple and pretty obvious to you. We’re just used to clouding it in defenses and justifications. Because sometimes our reasons for our anger is unwarranted or unpopular. If you suffer from Right-Wing Authoritarianism[KK4] , then you’re drawn to anger just by the simple fact that someone isn’t conforming to societal norms and structure. Recognize when you’re speeding up or rushing things. Is it a reaction to a stressor that was just introduced? Understand when your nerves begin to flare up and you start feeling neurotic. Explore alternate or new coping methods.[KK5]
Knowing your Relationships:
Know how you show affection and how you feel affection. This is the most complicated part because it literally requires other people to discover. Effective communication is key here because without it, you cannot even begin to explore how you value others and how they value you. But when you are in tune with your own needs and also understand the needs of those around you, then you can truly begin to express appreciation in ways that other people can take in and value rather than solely expressing it in your own way and wondering why no one is responding to your offerings.
Know what you want to do and what you’re willing to sacrifice for others. Relationships are a constant give and take between what you want to do and doing what others want you to do. If you know yourself well enough and feel confident enough to speak up for yourself, then you’ll also be able to enjoy your relationship more. I call this the restaurant allegory. Have you ever seen a couple that can’t decide on what restaurant to go to? It always seems to be this back and forth ping-pong game of “What would you like to eat?” “No, what would you like to eat?” And in this arcade of politeness no one is a winner because there is no limit to how polite you can be, but at the same time everyone loses because they get increasingly frustrated with the other party to just choose a damn restaurant. In this case, it is clearly evident for both parties to know exactly what they want and express it. One round of “where would you like to go?” is enough before a real conversation can take place (“I feel like Chinese but you want Mexican) and a real bargained agreement can come forth (well we’re closer to the Chinese place right now so we’ll go there tonight, then on Friday we can hit up that Mexican restaurant you really like, or vice-versa). In this way, you know yourself well enough to know or at least explore what you actually want, express it, and then temper it to the needs of those around you.
If you had to break up with you, what would it be for? [KK6] This one always drives me nuts because no one ever thinks it could happen to them. People don’t start relationships with plans of breaking up. Most people don’t get married intending to get divorced. Yet we see it all the time because of this blind-side. Invariably when a relationship hits the rocks it is comforting to think that you’re the one that’s in the right and thusly steering the ship out of the shoals. But it very well may be the other way around. In which case you must ask yourself the same question as you ask your spouse/significant other: what is it that I’m doing to fuck up this relationship? It doesn’t matter if you’re in a committed marriage or starting off a fresh relationship. Asking yourself every once in a while what reasons would be to break up with you brings a balancing and often times motivational effect to your life. It also helps you analyze exactly where it is in your life that you are lacking or what you could be doing better. In this way your marriage doesn’t settle into the inevitable doldrums of knowing each other so well that your reactions fail to elicit a pleasant surprise anymore. Rather you continue to grow in each other and become better versions of yourself as you both push each other to continually ask, “what could I be doing to make this relationship stronger”.
Knowing for success:
This is the big hiccup because everyone in life wants to be successful. In one way or another, people want to feel empowered and in control of their own lives. But obviously this involves knowing yourself before you can start forging your way to the crucible of success. And In order to be successful there are a few things you need to be aware of about:
Know your learning style. And I’m not talking about whether you’re an idetic learner, a tactile learner, or a visual/hearing learner. We all take in and process information in similar ways. What I’m talking about here is what methods you use to study. For me, I ground and pound the project right then and there to finish early because I know I’m a chronic procrastinator and my interest in a topic will evaporate in as little as a day. Working up to deadlines leaves me feeling shitty inside as I often have to half-ass a project and I end up turning something in that doesn’t feel polished enough to survive the harsh light of reality. But to that end, I know there are people who actually enjoy the long, slow drive to a goal. Their consistency is to be lauded, but it is folly to work against your own nature in pursuit of someone else’s result. Knowing how you study and why you study is just as important as the material you’re presented with.
Know your motivation. Understand your intrinsic motivation type. Everyone has one. And there are three to choose from. One is power, the other is achievement, and the third is intimacy[KK7] . Know what drives you. If it’s power, then being empowered by others and in turn empowering others is your motivator. If it’s achievement, accomplishing goals and being the shining example is your motivator. You’re not just motivated by being in the top 10%. You want to be the best. If it’s intimacy, you want to build connections. You want to build community and trust. You want everyone to jump in and row together willingly and enthusiastically. The problem is that most people have no idea what drives them. As the server in the restaurant or the white-collar workers in the cubicles and they won’t be able to tell you specifically.
For me, it’s power. I love being the one to exert my influence on others. I view my powerfulness as essential to my masculinity. [KK8] Affirming in it’s power and guile over women and influence over other men. That’s kind of the dark side but the push-pull conundrum comes in when it’s time to pull other people up with you. Power is not just being the strongest in the group. Power is being strong enough to lift up the person next to you and behind you.
Know if you’re a minder, a finder, or a grinder[KK9] . There are three types of people needed in a good organization. Technically four [KK10] if you can find one but three are essential (it’s HR). Minders manage projects and people. Finders chase after new leads and bring in customers. Grinders dig it out, doing the grunt work and keeping the gears moving. All are essential. You will be tasked with doing each one at a certain point in your life. You will find that you fail in two but exceed in one. That’s the one that comes naturally to you. If you’re thinking about running a startup, you’re gonna have to do all three at first.
For me, I’m a finder. I excel at drawing in people. I’m a naturally charismatic person and a great conversationalist. In doing this, I draw in clients and bring potential return business to the endeavor. But by knowing this I steer clear of the minder and grinder portions of my job that I don’t enjoy. This is where identifying others’ strengths and hiring/delegating appropriately becomes a key skill for long-term success. You’ll burn out if you try to do all three or try to shunt yourself in a certain position for too long. Instead, know what type of work engages you and actively pursue positions that fit the archetype of one of these three types of jobs.
At any point in life, we all fall out of our own understanding. Suddenly we look up and we’re in a position we don’t want to be in. Or we know we’ve been working to a certain frustrating point for a long time and things begin reaching a cresting break in your current lifestyle. When this occurs, there are a few strategies you can employ to rebalance yourself.
- Put in external inputs that make you feel good. Listen to music that gets you in the right mood. Watch a video, listen to a speech, or read your favorite book that helps put things back into perspective.
- Write out your feelings. Journaling, as it is known, is one of the most effective ways of parsing through what you want and what you don’t want. It literally allows you to take the thoughts rattling around in your head, physically put them on paper, and then take them in from a distance. In doing this you gain clarity and perspective.
- Engage in an activity that gets things done. Something you can look back on and physically see that you accomplished something. In today’s digital world it’s far too easy to work for a day and come away without seeing any physical manifestations of your progress. But just as a procrastinator needs to clean in order to snap them out of their spell, so do you sometimes need to do something where you can physically see the result. Having pride in what you’ve done can put you more in touch with your values and provide a cerebral experience that you can later discuss with your loved ones.
The other side we need to recognize about understanding yourself is acceptance. Accept yourself and Keep in mind that people don’t really change over time. And that includes you. If you’re a lazy person now, it’s quite probably that you’ll still be predisposed to being lazy ten years in the future, even if you work hard to fight it. And that’s okay. Work with it instead of constantly fighting yourself. Understand that personalities don’t really change during your life.[KK11] And actions and behavior are driven by personality. So it’s very rare that you’ll be able to change or expect someone to change over time. The only way to do that is through real trauma. And the only way to do it to yourself is through repeating the words that envision the idealized you. I do it through my motivation book. But keep in mind that you must accept people for who they are [KK12] through individuation[KK13] .
Also keep in mind that no one thinks about you more than you think about yourself. At the end of the day, no one gives a shit who you are. Do you think your co-workers or your boss goes home and dedicates any more thought than the amount of time they spent with you during the day wondering how you’re doing or if you’re alright? Heck no! That’d be impossible. I don’t go home and think about our dishwasher and the cooks and the wait staff as well as the bar staff that I work with every day. If there is an employee going through a particularly bad time, then I might dedicate some time thinking about them, but that’s only if I’m feeling in a good mood or feel like being overly kind that day, or if I secretly hate you.
Realize the 20–40–60 rule[KK14] :
“At 20, you are constantly worrying about what other people think of you. At 40 you wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to give a damn what other people think anymore.’ And at 60 you realize no one is thinking about you at all.” -Heidi Roizen
Either way, as you can see, at the end of it all is just understanding and acceptance. But the more you can understand your motivations, and how you deal with the world around you, the less you fight against the current of your own personality and the more you begin to go with the flow of who your are and how you align with this world. No one has all the answers, but if you work on knowing yourself first, you may just be able to peer into the soul of this world and how everything works out.
Thanks for reading and have a blessed day!
[KK1]20130814–2350 — The PowerPoint rant that got a colonel fired (Air Force)
[KK2]20200903–0840 — medium.com — Nobody needs to see the real you
[KK3]20200402–2353 — Journal — For the therapist
[KK4]20201219–0719 — psychologytoday.com — The New Way to Reverse Even Your Worst Mood
[KK5]20210122–1344 — psychologytoday.com — Have You Checked on Your Nervous System Lately
[KK6]20210308–0757 — psychologytoday.com — How to Survive and Thrive After a Breakup
[KK7]20201211–1336 — psychologytoday.com — Power, Achievement, and Intimacy; Tap Thy Unconscious Motivation
[KK8]20200923–1700 — medium.com — Why a Man’s Masculinity is Essential to a Woman
[KK9]20201221–0906 — forbes.com — Team Building; Minders, Finders, Grinders
[KK10]20201221–0859 — bcgsearch.com — The Four Types of Attorneys Inside of Law Firms; Are You a Finder, Minder, Binder or Grinder
[KK11]20210325–0807 — psychologytoday.com — The Curse Of Character
[KK12]20201229–0903 — psychologytoday.com — Who Do You Want To Be
[KK13]20201221–0608 — psychologytoday.com — Narcissists and Other Know-It-Alls
[KK14]20210116–0742 — medium.com — No one gives a shit; The 20–40–60 Rule