Getting to know yourself – really well – is a truly liberating journey.
One may think this is bit of an oxymoron: ‘I live with myself 24/7, so surely I know myself.’ But, the answer lies in “mindfully-knowing.”
What you say and do influences how others experience and perceive you, and finding out what that is encapsulates the true understanding of one’s self.
How is this done, you may ask. There are several ways ranging from completing an online assessment (Myers-Briggs, DISC) and reading the report to attending Group Therapy for two years – using the Yalom methodology. However, don’t discount your work/life experiences along the way as this is an equally important source of information.
How does one get to “mindfully know” oneself? What does it all mean?
1) First, it means paying attention: attention to the reactions of others towards you, paying attention to yourself: your thoughts, feelings, physical reactions whenever in the presence of others. What are your facial expressions telling others, and yourself, about you? What is your tone of voice ‘saying’? And, what are those butterflies in your tummy telling you about your own feelings? Why do you have them now, in the presence of this person, but not in the presence of others saying the same things?
What was the reason for your overreaction to someone turning up late, when it didn’t seem to bother others in the same way? What is the “story in your head” telling you?
2) Second, it means you need to know your own needs. Do I get energised by being with others, or when I am alone? Which foods energise me and which make me feel drained/sluggish?
3) Third, ask others what they think or feel about you. Be brave, I urge you. Invite 360degree feedback at work. Hear what your partner is saying. Sit with your thoughts and feelings, observe what is going on at the time, to understand where they are coming from. Reflect.
It can be a painful journey, as you may hear some messages that you would perhaps rather not know. But sometimes things have to feel worse, before they get better. It may also be a liberating journey when you hear things that you like, and can therefore repeat.
Knowing yourself well is enlightening. It will help you:
- Establish better and more productive relationships;
- Make better decisions that get better results;
- Create better alignment and wellbeing by being kinder to yourself.
It doesn’t mean you have to change who you are, or compromise on your Values. It simply means you are making life a lot easier.
Guest Contributor: Zena Boakes, MBA, HR Mentor for the Australian Human Resources Institute