Three Ways to Grow In Knowing Yourself
All over the world, there is a pandemic that is happening. I would like to believe that it has been going on since the beginning of human existence. It isn’t necessarily a disease but it is a problem that requires a solution. The only issue with this problem is that the human experience is so weird, unique, and alive that there is not a formula that will work 100% of the time. The awesome part is that there are principles that we can participate in that will help guide us to our own unique and ever-evolving solution. The pandemic that I am referring to is the “trying to find yourself” pandemic, which I will refer to as knowing yourself from here on out.
Knowing yourself is one of the best investments you can make in your life. Some of the traits that follow people who know themselves well are self-confidence, focus, balanced life, and just a happier in general. When you know yourself well you do not have to participate in being insecure. You know what you bring to the table, you know your strengths, and your weaknesses, or at least have a good sense of what they might be. You can focus and live a balanced life because you know what you like and do not like, which will help you create boundaries around what is important to you and/or not important to you. With all of that, what happens is you can live a happier life. This is because you have a reservoir of joy to pull from whenever you need it. I will discuss more about creating a reservoir of joy in the future, so stay connected. All of these benefits are some of the many positive experiences you can have by knowing yourself well. Life becomes much sweeter.
For the next few moments, I want to share with you three principles that will help you grow in knowing yourself and impact you to live a better and sweeter life.
Some years ago I met a guy through a non-profit organization that I volunteered at weekly. We had an immediate connection when we first met and when we would see each other after long stretches of time, it would feel like we had not missed a beat in our friendship. Every time we would connect again, he would have an interesting story. One of the times that we connected he had actually just left the hospital because he had gotten stabbed. He showed me the wound. He had been in a neighborhood where he saw these guys abusing a female. He decided to jump in and beat the guys up, but then another guy had come out of nowhere and stabbed him in the side. Then, they beat him up and he had to go to the hospital. How many people do you know who were casually stabbed a week before? Another time, he had mentioned to me that he was going to “find himself”. He was going to live out in the middle of the woods, with no cell phone, no food, or anything that a typical camper would bring. He was just going to live off the land for a time. When he was sharing this with me, I wanted to shout so bad to him “you don’t have to do that to ‘find yourself’”, but sometimes it might take being exposed to silence to finally hear something that you need to hear to grow in knowing yourself.
The first principle that I want to share with you is the Principle of Exposure. When we are exposed to different environments, cultures, foods, music, people, and so many other things it has the opportunity to reveal to us what we like. Have you ever seen a movie or maybe traveled to another country and noticed that it made you come alive? When we find out what we like or dislike, we have just grown in knowing ourselves. You may think that knowing you do not like a certain culture is not very “deep,” but what happens when you know that is that you get the privilege to ask yourself more questions. Being exposed helps you take a step in the right direction. It may not be an overnight experience, but over time you will grow in knowing yourself. When you ask yourself the why questions it will help you go deeper into why you like or dislike that particular thing.
The second principle I want to share is the Principle of Experience. Where exposure lacks action, experience picks it up. Experiencing something is to take action in doing whatever it is that you are curious about doing. Just like my friend who was going to live off of the land, for me to shut him down and tell him that is silly would possibly limit him from experiencing what he needed to experience by being exposed to the wonders of nature. Exposure and experience are very similar but to experience something is to partake in the action that it is doing. Let’s imagine volunteering at a local non-profit, you can just visit the non-profit, that would be being exposed, but to experience it will entail partnering and serving the mission of the local non-profit. I believe that one of the reasons that kids grow up to be complacent adults is because of a lack of exposure and experience. Primarily, by being too sheltered. Some practical steps that will help in operating in the Principles of Exposure and Experience are to go somewhere that you usually do not visit and have a conversation with a person that you wouldn’t primarily speak to.
The last principle is the Principle of Expectation. The literal definition of expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. This principle is a little more mysterious than the other two but when partnered with it had the ability to fuel you when the process gets tough and you start to entertain the idea of settling for something less than what you have been destined for. Your expectation of certain scenarios and situations can spark a curiosity that will lead you into an encounter, encounter being experienced, and exposure combined, that would reveal in a greater way who you are. It can simply be applied by asking yourself, “what do I expect by going here and/or doing this?” Also, what you expect about a certain situation can reveal to you what you believe about that situation. When you find out what you believe, then you can ask the question, “why do I believe this?” Then the fun begins.
We do not choose our beliefs. Our beliefs are a conglomeration of our meditated thoughts. For example, if you believe the worse about multiple situations then you can assume that your thoughts are that things are always bad, which you could dive a little deeper and most likely find a situation in your life where you experienced a failed expectation. So now with knowing this newfound information, you know yourself better and you have the opportunity to correct that belief or build your life around it in such a way where your life is protected from that negative belief.
Those are brief summarizations of three principles that will help you grow in knowing yourself. It will still take intentionality on your part but they are a good guide if you are desiring to grow in knowing yourself.
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