The endeavour to know oneself is an ongoing process. Trying to know oneself is a good exercise towards satisfactory life. “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened” (Lao Tzu). Do not spend your precious time in gossiping about your neighbours. This kind of unproductive habit takes away much of your time. It drains your energy which could be used profitably somewhere else. Instead, find out what you are so that you can consciously invest for today and future possibilities.
The failure stories of people like Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Jack Ma serve as guiding start points for us. Don’t read many success stories, but try to learn how great men and women discover themselves even in their lives’ challenging and unsuccessful moments. Learn how these personalities began to programme themselves to be what they are today. Be encouraged by them and walk with them through their examples. Let them be your role models as people who rose from failure to success.
Greek philosophy tells you, “Know thy self,” and Indian Philosophy exhorts us, “Forget yourself.” I think you need a blending of both. You need to know yourself – your capacities, abilities, talents, innate gifts and prove yourself to the world as an honourable citizen who contributes to the welfare of society. You also will learn that there are certain things beyond human reason and human capacity. Then you should forget yourself and surrender to God almighty for guidance. This is a balanced step towards self-awareness or self-knowledge. Continually conduct a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis for yourself. This exercise can be done in your room without disturbing anyone. This is a good workout for self-improvement. The constant endeavour to know oneself leads to self-improvement.
The beauty of self-awareness is: you will know your possibilities and limits, so you will stop judging yourself. You will come to know the abilities of others and decrease judging others. You will concentrate on a particular area that will lead you to produce more and better outputs. Once you know your actual worth, you will no longer believe gossips and cease unnecessary comparisons. You will systematically eliminate covers or masks you have been wearing for so long that has kept you from realizing your capacities.
“Self-awareness is believed to be the cornerstone of emotional intelligence,” said Anna-Lucia Mackay. What is emotional intelligence? According to Daniel Goleman, it is the “capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” The capacity to manage ourselves plays a vital role in living one’ life and managing one’s responsibilities.
This capacitates you to deal with your reactions and maintain relationships (with yourself and others). Self-awareness enables you to perceive your personality, motivations, responses to situations, behaviours, emotions, habits, and thoughts. “The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer” (Adam Smith). If you know your worth, you are more likely to vote for a worthy person who could represent you for the next five years. If not, you may vote for some short-term benefits at the expense of your future half a decade. “The life you live is the outward expression of your inner journey” (Will Craig). Trying to know oneself is a well-intentioned pursuit worth it.
The author is a PhD research scholar, Department of Sociology and Social Work, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org