By Jo Ritchie – Personal and Business Coach, Sarah Bauer Hernandez – MA, LPC

How To Know Yourself Deeply

“The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom Aristotle
Jo Ritchie

It may be a cliché to ‘find yourself’, but it’s also arguably one of the most important things you will ever do. 

For those days when you feel that you are putting on a mask based on how you think you ‘should’ be acting or when you are adapting who you really are in order to please others, here is a quick checklist and some inspirational quotes to help you get back in touch with and express your badass authentic self: 

1. Know the ‘real’ you, the ‘awareness’ behind the thoughts 

Realise you are not the ‘monkey brain’ computer that churns out millions of thoughts a day. As Eckhart Tolle says, “The beginning of freedom is the realisation you are not ‘the thinker’. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated”.  

2. Spend some time alone every day 

You cannot hear your own inner voice when it is drowned out by the demands of others. Oscar Wilde said, “I think it is very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person”.   

3. Take off the mask and express the real you 

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be”. Hiding behind a persona built on what you think you ‘should’ be is never going to bring you peace or meaningful relationships.   

4. Take responsibility for your own life 

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we will always be the victim” – Richard Bach. You take back your power when you accept that you are the one making things happen in your life.   

5. Be grateful for what you have rather than focus on what you don’t 

If you focus on what you feel you are lacking, you will always be dissatisfied. If you look for things to be grateful about, you will find many. As Neale Donald Walsch puts it, “The struggle ends when gratitude begins”.  

6. Don’t give a s**t about what other people think of you 

Why waste time worrying about what other people MIGHT think and experience stress based on a hypothesis that probably isn’t even true?! Newsflash: others are too busy worrying about their own stuff! Anyway, as Maya Angelou puts it, “Your opinion is not the sum of me”.   

7. Don’t compare yourself with others 

There will always be someone smarter, stronger, prettier or funnier than you. These surface things are not really important. As Lao Tzu said, “When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you”.  

8. Face your fears and constantly push your comfort zone 

George Adair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear”. FEAR can be seen as an acronym for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ and doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.  

9. Accept and embrace life as it is at this moment 

“The greatest source of wisdom is what is happening to us right now, just where we are”, believes Baron Baptiste. Mindfulness is essential. How can you really be there for yourself or for the people in your life if you are living in the past or planning the future?   

10. Set healthy boundaries: learn to say ‘no’ 

As part of being true to yourself, set healthy boundaries with others and practice saying ‘no’ when it helps you look after yourself. “You teach other people how to treat you by your words and actions”.   

11. Do what you love and not what you think you ‘should’ do 

Steve Jobs said, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Are you happy with how you are spending your days or do you need to consider making a change?   

12. Be open and honest in your communications 

The more you speak your truth and be real with people, the deeper you will connect in your relationships. In the words of Dr Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.

Jo Ritchie, Personal and Business Coach

Sarah Bauer Hernandez

“The privilege of a lifetime is being you are.” -Joseph Campbell

Getting to know yourself is the most important quest you can ever embark on. True fulfillment and happiness only exist when you understand yourself on a fundamental level. 

The depth of how well you know yourself is directly proportional to the depth of the questions you are willing to ask. 

Daring to see yourself clearly and allowing your authentic self to unfold gives your life purpose, meaning, and vitality.

Here are some questions to get you started on this brave journey:

1. Passion and curiosity

What lights you up? What brings you joy? What are you curious about?

The things you are drawn to are not random. Every little thing you love is a puzzle piece to your true nature. Keep track of when you are in an abnormally energetic and cheerful mood and to the things you are naturally good at. Your hobbies, interests, and obsessions will point directly to what makes you unique and what you can contribute to the world.

2. Shadows and fears

What are your biggest fears? What is the scariest thing you could do right now? What don’t you want to face about yourself?

Exploring your dark parts is just as important as basking in your lightness. Our shadow selves contain unconscious feelings, dreams, and even gifts we haven’t accessed yet. When we discard parts of ourselves, we reject the core of who we are. Facing your shadow means delving into your past traumas, current patterns, and future fears. Turning towards what scares you allows you to fully integrate all parts of yourself and feel more whole.

3. Inner voices

What does your inner critic say? Who would you be if you didn’t judge yourself?

Our inner critics can stand in the way of our happiness by tricking us into thinking we’re not worthy. Identifying the cruel voices of your inner bully can help you separate it from the voice of your higher wisdom. 

It is important to explore limiting negative self-beliefs, which often stem from painful life experiences. Our inner critics are misguidedly trying to protect us from getting hurt, and they will quiet down when offered curious, loving attention. 

4. Other people

What kind of people do you surround myself with? Who do you admire and why? What irritates you the most in other people? 

Take a look at the people you choose to spend time with and notice their qualities, as they will mirror back different parts of yourself. Write down the characteristics in others that you are drawn to and wish to emulate. 

The beautiful things you see in others exist in you as well. Additionally, the things that irk you about others are likely to be parts of yourself you haven’t accepted yet.

5. Patterns

What are repeating themes in your relationships? Is there a roadblock that pops up each time you get close to your dreams? How might you be sabotaging your own happiness?

Our lives are one giant lesson, coming in the form of repetitive situations, conflicts, and cycles you just can’t shake. If you notice a pattern of behavior or situation that exhaustingly keeps repeating, it is time to look inward. There is something to learn, and it will keep happening until you address it.

6. Consult your death

Imagine you were told you have five years to live, what would you do? How about one year? One month? One week? What are the recurring themes and how can you incorporate them more into your life?

There is no quicker way to clarify what is important to you in life than facing how short and fragile it is. This existential inquiry can give you instant and sometimes surprising insight on what you love doing, who is important to you, and what you want to do more of. Living your life knowing that you could die at any moment will help you keep your priorities and happiness at the forefront.

7. Keep exploring

In addition to asking yourself deep questions, contemplative exercises can help you get still enough to really see yourself. Meditation, mindful walks in nature, creating art, or journaling can help you access parts of your consciousness that have been buried. 

Try writing your personal story, with all of its twists and turns, and how these events have shaped you. Knowing yourself and owning your story gives you the power to create whatever life you desire.

Sarah Bauer Hernandez, MA, LPC

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