Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 17, 2020

How to Gain Self-Knowledge and Live up to Your Potential

How to Gain Self-Knowledge and Live up to Your Potential

“If I have to spend any more time as a cog in the wheel – sacrificing my own creativity & passion to help someone else’s vision come to life – I am going to scream,” I thought staring at the excel spreadsheet on my screen. At that moment, I gained two essential pieces of self-knowledge:

Awilda prefers to work for herself & Awilda needs to be engaged in work that she is both passionate about and stimulates her creativity.

In the milliseconds after this information was received, I had a choice to make: would I reject this information as a baseless passing thought or would I integrate this new information as self-knowledge and use it to help change my trajectory?

I chose to accept the information because the realizations were based on the feeling that I was no longer capable of going on as I had. I knew that was not motivated to continue, and I was capable of so much more. The self-knowledge I gained in that moment was invaluable.

Self-knowledge is knowledge or understanding of one’s own capabilities, character, feelings, or motivations. One could also think of self- knowledge as Self-Understanding.

Advertising

Self-knowledge is the keystone in the arc of success, because success requires intentionality. It is difficult to be intentional if you don’t have a clear idea of the type of person you are, what you can do, how you feel, and what motivates you.

Thankfully, every experience and thought you have can provide you with data that gives you an opportunity to gain more self-knowledge – just like my moment of clarity at the computer. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that trying to understand yourself can be life’s greatest challenge because you are both the perceiver and the object being perceived.

Consequently, the idea of actively seeking to attain self-knowledge can be scary and stressful, especially if you feel disconnected from yourself. Luckily, when the process is broken down into 4 digestible steps, it’s a lot less scary and a lot more like solving a cool personalized puzzle. Here are the 4 steps to actively attaining more self-knowledge:

Step 1 – Take a Character Inventory

Taking an inventory of your character is the first step. Ask yourself, “What are my distinct mental and moral qualities?”

Are you quick to anger; are you conservative; do you love easily or are you super guarded? Perhaps you are incredibly honest, or dedicated to your spiritual beliefs. All of these things contribute to your character.

Advertising

If you are not sure about the answers to these questions, examine your lived experiences. You will find supporting examples that support these character traits among your lived experiences.

Step 2 – Understand What You Can Do

Understanding what you can do is the next rung in the self-knowledge ladder. While you can always become more capable, having an honest grasp of your current capabilities is critical. You don’t want to be applying for your dream job knowing that you are unable to actually satisfy the roles requirements.

If you possess a firm understanding of your strengths and weakness, it will allow you to leverage your abilities in such a way that you don’t overextend yourself. Additionally, knowing where you are deficient in your abilities empowers you to proactively seek out the skills necessary to change that reality.

Step 3 – Feel the Feels

Being able to identify what and why you feel a certain way is an integral part of self-knowledge. Yet this can be the hardest of all.

Feelings are tricky. They give us a lot of information, but they aren’t always warm and fuzzy. Spending time getting acquainted with what you feel about various parts of your life will give you a lot of data. Here again, lived experiences are a fertile ground for supporting evidence that can help you understand your feelings more clearly.

Advertising

For example, you may be confused about your feelings around applying to a particular job or academic program. To get clarity, think about how you feel in the moments associated with this decision. If you feel anxious and unsure every time you try to submit your application, then your feelings may be trying to signal that this is not the best decision for you.

Sometimes, feelings give us data we don’t want to accept, even though we know it’s valid and true. The choice to integrate the information is always yours.

Step 4 – Motivation Matters

The final piece of the self-knowledge puzzle is to understand your motivations. The question becomes: Why are you doing what you are doing?

Common motivators are: money, prestige, recognition, family obligations, freedom, and personal fulfillment. You may easily identify with one of those common motivators or you may be motivated by something completely different like a desire to save the planet or simply to live a peaceful existence. Freedom, family, and an unshakable desire to help others are what motivate me.

However, I want to warn you that the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what motivates you may not be the true source of your motivation. For example, many think money is what motivates them when in fact, it’s a desire for stability that is their true source of motivation.

Advertising

Learn the 9 Types of Motivation That Make It Possible to Reach Your Dreams.

Final Thoughts

Once you have taken the time to intentionally collect more data, you get to decide what to do with it. Will you integrate it and change you trajectory, or ignore it and continue your current path? Whatever you choose to do will undoubtedly be informed by the information you learned about yourself form solving the Self-Knowledge Puzzle.

Inevitably, the Self-Knowledge you gained will help to create immense clarity on your life journey. When you are clear about your character, capabilities, feelings and motivations, it is easier to create intentional strategies for all around success.

Self-Knowledge puts you on a fast track to success; while a lack of information can cause delays, distractions and derailments. If you truly know yourself, you have a better chance of confidently achieving your goals in a timely manner.

More About Self-Understanding

Featured photo credit: Thomas Griesbeck via unsplash.com

More by this author

Awilda Rivera

Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

5 Steps to Building Confidence That Is Unshakeable How to Stop Comparing Your Life to Others (Step-by-Step Guide) How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now Feeling Out of Place in Life? 5 Ways to Get Back on Track How to Change Yourself and Live the Life You Deserve

Trending in Mental Strength

1 The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance) 2 What Is the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Living With Meaning 3 How to Stop Being a Perfectionist (Step-by-Step Guide) 4 5 Reasons to Follow Your Heart to Live the Life You Want 5 How to Change Your Self-Perception and Untap Your Hidden Potential

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

Advertising

Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

Advertising

At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

Advertising

Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

Advertising

If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next