How to Get to Know Yourself Better

Working with a more adapted definition of your situation, your inclinations, and your goals is really advantageous. However, how can you achieve it?
How to Get to Know Yourself Better

Last update: 23 June, 2022

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered who you really are?  It’s quite normal these days to go through life on autopilot. You detach your consciousness from the present and travel through time and space as if you were a passenger in a train with windows that are too small to look through to successfully analyze your emotions and motivations.

Recognizing yourself means seeing parts of you that you may not like so much. Spaces that you haven’t cleaned for a long time and that are a little grubby. However, self-knowledge can be a powerful tool for your personal growth. Here, we’ll give you some strategies to get to know yourself.

The benefits and problems of self-knowledge

Self- knowledge is a concept that refers to the ability to analyze your own behavior, motivations, emotions, thoughts, etc. It means you’re able to create a more or less accurate image of who you are, aligning it with your goals. You tend to think that you know your identity and have it well defined. However, in all probability, this isn’t the case at all.

To demonstrate this, Vazire and Carlson (2010) reviewed some studies on self-knowledge. They revealed that people do have an idea of who they are and how others perceive them, but it’s not exact. Therefore, we might say that we all have several ‘blind spots’ when it comes to observing ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that putting into practice strategies to get to know yourself is useless. In fact, research by Wilson and Dunn (2004) looked at the potential benefits of self-awareness. They concluded that the benefits are related to the way in which we approach our own identity. In other words, if we see ourselves from an optimistic perspective, such as when we feel confident about a talent, it’s advantageous.

On the other hand, a more pessimistic view of ourselves and our abilities can reduce achievement motivation. In these cases, self-awareness becomes a problem because our perceptions about our flaws and weaknesses predominate.

man thinking slowly

Six strategies to get to know yourself

Self-knowledge will be beneficial for you as long as you approach it from a realistic but gentle position. The following strategies for getting to know yourself will help you delve a little deeper into yourself and discover your potential.

1. Full attention or mindfulness

Mindfulness is a psychotherapeutic technique that seeks to increase the degree of attention you dedicate to your experience of the present. The technique has been used successfully in the treatment of anxiety, rumination, and other disorders. Furthermore, evidence suggests that it could be a useful tool for self-knowledge.

An investigation by Aránega, Sánchez, and Pérez (2019) used mindfulness as a method to improve self-knowledge. At the end of the experiment, the authors found that the studied sample reported a higher level of self-awareness. Similarly, mindfulness was found to reduce stress by 15 percent.

2. Write a journal

To get to know yourself, try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. After a while, you can reread what you wrote down, and identify patterns that, up until then, you hadn’t recognized. Or, certain thoughts that turned out to be more recurrent than you imagined.

3. Talk to people close to you

As stated earlier, we all have our blind spots regarding the way we are. For that reason, one of the strategies to get to know yourself is to gain the perspective of someone who knows you really well. Talk to them about how they perceive you and pay attention to those things that you don’t usually notice.

If you manage to identify any non-conscious action, try to analyze why you have the necessity to do it.

4. Practice yoga

Your body is a part of yourself, hence self-knowledge involves learning about it. Yoga is an exercise that helps you pay attention to your bodily sensations. Therefore, it’s an excellent practice to help you become more aware of your body and be healthier.

5. Define your interests

Our hobbies say a lot about us. For example, nursing as a vocation can suggest a giving orientation towards others.

Thus, defining your passions could provide you with extremely valuable information to help you make decisions.

Woman thinking

6. Consider psychological assistance

As a rule, we tend to believe that we should only go to a psychologist when we’re going through a bad time. However, in reality, the therapeutic space is a place where you can also explore positive spaces, such as a life project.

Finally, keep in mind that psychologists are professionals trained to analyze behavior and apply techniques to enhance abilities. Consequently, they’re the most suitable to offer you strategies to get to know yourself and discover your personal resources.

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  • Aránega, A. Y., Sánchez, R. C., & Pérez, C. G. (2019). Mindfulness’ effects on undergraduates’ perception of self-knowledge and stress levels. Journal of Business Research, 101, 441-446.
  • Vazire, S., & Carlson, E. N. (2010). Self‐knowledge of personality: Do people know themselves?. Social and personality psychology compass, 4(8), 605-620.
  • Wilson, T. D., & Dunn, E. W. (2004). Self-knowledge: Its limits, value, and potential for improvement. Annual review of psychology, 55(1), 493-518.