I have a friend who I know for more than 10 years. One day, he came up to my friend and me, and told us he had a big discovery about himself – he is an extrovert. My friend and I looked at each other puzzled and said, “You mean you don’t know that you are an extrovert? We know you are an extrovert like 10 years ago. How could you not know that about yourself?”
“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.” – Yogi Bhajan
For the first month of my 2016 Self-Love Project, I want to focus on knowing self. I think it is important to start with self-awareness because the more you know about yourself, the more authentic you can be. Loving self is about being true to yourself. How can you love yourself if you don’t know who you are?
Self-love is also about celebrating your strength and accepting your flaws. I find it helpful to list down what you know about yourself. When you are stressed, anxious or depressed, you tend to forget everything you know about yourself. Having a list that you can refer to, helps you to be mindful of who you are.
To start things off, here’s my list.
7 Important Things You Need to Know About Yourself
1. You need to know your strengths.
Knowing what you do best helps you get more things done with less time. When you are doing things that you are good at, you feel that you are in flow. You don’t feel like it’s hard work. Your strengths probably earn you the most money too. So own your strengths, leverage them and make them even better.
If you have no idea what your strengths are, ask around. Ask your friends to tell you what they think you are good at. Start collecting positive words that you hear about you. Recently, one of my students I tutored said that I’m patient with people. I’m definitely adding that to my list.
2. You need to know your weaknesses.
To love yourself unconditionally, you need to accept your flaws too. Accepting your weaknesses means acknowledging that you are bad at certain things and not try to fix them. We are usually hard on ourselves because of our weaknesses.
It’s important to know that there’s nothing wrong with having weaknesses.
When you focus on something like your strengths, you bound to have less time and attention for something else like your weaknesses. Spending time fixing your weaknesses means having less time to develop your strengths. Instead, outsource your weaknesses. Let other people who are good at doing that things you are bad at, help you.
Also, there’s no need to blame yourself for being weak at something. Just be mindful of your weaknesses and prevent any damage it might potentially cause. For example, I’m very bad at estimating and keeping time. When I do tasks on my own, I tend to overrun my time allocation. So when I meet people, I had to plan to arrive 15 minutes to 30 minutes earlier, otherwise I would be late or be very anxious about being late.
3. You need to know what you love.
One way to love yourself is do more of what you love and do less of what you hate. If you don’t know what your passions are, how are you going to do more of what you love?
For each career I had, I kept a list of what I love and doesn’t love about the job. Having these information helps me to fine-tune my career path. When I changed jobs each time, I would find a job that has more of what I love and less of what I hate. If you have no idea where to start, read my book, Fearless Passion, or my recent blog post on “How to Find Your Passion in Life?” for inspiration.
4. You need to know what you hate.
Knowing what you hate helps you to set boundaries. If you love yourself enough, you would set healthy boundaries with other people so that you don’t get yourself hurt. As with what you love, you need to know what you hate before you can do less of it.
Being an introvert, I know I prefer to read a book than to go out for parties. I know I need time alone to recharge. Sometimes, I regret going to events when I didn’t feel like it and I would blame myself for not saying “no”. To love and develop myself further, it is important for me to master how to set healthy boundaries and reject party invitations that don’t serve me kindly.
5. You need to know your values.
Your values are what you stand for. They are what you believe in and the things that are important to you. Knowing your values is part of loving yourself because it helps you to identify and connect with people who share the same values as you – be it friends, business partners or your better half.
A good way to know what your values are is to ask, “What will you not do? What are your standards?” Like for me, I believe in love, kindness and encouragement. As a tutor, I love to encourage my students. I don’t believe that scolding helps my students improve. Other tutors would think that I’m too soft and scolding is necessary. But that’s okay. Everyone has different values. You have to find what’s yours.
6. You need to know your purpose.
Your purpose is why you get up every morning to do what you do. It’s your motivation behind each tasks. Your purpose tells you what makes you feel fulfilled. It doesn’t have a deadline or an end point, but when you are clear with your purpose, you will live more intentionally and love yourself more.
However, purpose is one of the hardest things to know about yourself. It took me a long time to uncover my purpose and I’m still clarifying it as I progress. What I suggest is to start thinking and writing down your purpose even though it isn’t crystal clear yet. It would get clearer along the way.
To start, you can ask yourself WHY:
- Why are you doing this job and not the other job?
- Why do you feel motivated to do this and not that?
- Why do you start this new project?
- Why do you like this idea and not that idea?
- Why is this important to you?
You’ll get a lot of clues when you ask yourself why.
7. You need to know your biggest area for personal growth.
Personal growth is important to self-love because when you truly love yourself, you will take time to nurture and care for yourself.
Everyone is similar yet different. I love to read books and learn about personal growth and personal development. I believe they help in a general sense. But I believe the best way to love and grow yourself is to customize growth according to your personality.
Customize growth according to your personality.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Areas of growth for an introvert and an extrovert are most likely to be different too. An introvert may need to learn more about how to communicate with the outer world while an extrovert may need to learn more about self-reflection.
And how you grow yourself would be different. Everyone knows that exercising is important. But a more active person might choose extreme sports like snowboarding while a less active person might choose yoga. So it’s important to Identify your biggest area for personal growth and not just follow the crowd.
Getting to Know Yourself Better: How to Start?
Self-discovery is an ongoing process. I thought I know a lot about myself. But after I had depression last year, I realized I didn’t know myself as much as I thought. So I have been studying my own personality in-depth lately, in particular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and its corresponding functional stack.
You can get a free MBTI assessment here provided by 16personalities.com.
Taking personality tests is a good way to start. I love to do them. It’s unlike zodiac, because you answer the questions yourself. The more honest you are with the questions, the more accurate the result is. And also, the questions help you to think more about yourself. At the end of the personality tests, you will be given a write-up about your personality, your strengths and weaknesses etc. They are great because they explain your personality in words. There are even specific profiling tests for career, building wealth etc.
With these personality tests, I’m able to draw new insights and apply these new knowledge to my life. It also helps me to explain things that I’m going through, for e.g. depression. But of course, use these tests as a starting point to know about yourself, don’t use them to stereotype yourself and other people.
Featured Photo Credit: Four Brothers – Lucia / JOSE VICENTE JIMENEZ RIBAS