There are millions of ways to know yourself but let’s talk about 6, 6 “VITAL Signs” are keys to self-understanding, career success, and happiness.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” This famous quote is often attributed to Socrates. But what exactly do you know when you “know yourself?”
I will reveal 6 elements of self-knowledge that can help you understand your own identity. As you live your daily life, you can look for clues to these important building blocks of Self.
But first, why is it important to know yourself?
But first before I go deep,You don’t need to be afraid though, since I will give you good advice to go through that dark route, but know that it could be dangerous for some of your most treasured belief systems.
So you think you know who you are, right? You’ve been around with yourself for more years than anyone else, so you should be the one to know you best.
And that might be true if you compare yourself with other people, but I am here to tell you straight in the face that you don’t have a clue who you really are. In fact, you may be so far from the truth, that you were talking about some stranger, whenever you were talking about youself.
Our human brain functions through defining things and then comparing it to other related items. These 2 parts – Definition and Comparison – are so intertwined, that none could exist without the other.
What do I mean. If you take an object – let’s say an apple – you define this object as an apple by comparing it with other objects – like oranges, dogs or cars – and recognizing the differences between these. Then you compare it with other apples, and you find what they do have in common, in comparison to oranges, dogs and cars. Hence you are able to group things together and add a label to that definition called “apple”. And you do the same with all other objects.
This concept of defining things through comparing and then labeling is so essential for our human existence, that this mere act is described in the bible as one of the first acts of Adam, where he labeled all animals with their respective name (Genesis 2:19-20).
The Function of Doubt
So we already said, that the human mind can only define things through comparing it with others and then build a definition using a label by stating the differences.So labels are shortcuts for you to remember that definition. And we take for granted, that these definitions are true. But are they true? What if you based your observations and therefore your comparison and your definition on false assumptions? What if you would take away everything to compare? What if none of that would be true, and you would have accepted something as true, that wasn’t based on reality but on illusion. What if you would start to doubt anything that you have believed to be true about yourself, for all those years.
A Painful Truth That Could Set You Free
I know this is a painful thought, and for sure a very frightening one. It could be so frightening, that people will do everything possible to defend their paradigms, their old beliefs. Why? Because the core function of our subconscious is to keep us from chaos, which we associate massive pain with. And not knowing who you are, could be one of the most chaotic, hence most painful realizations that you would ever face.But the prize you could gain from passing this phase of chaos is tremendous. You will experience a level of freedom and peace that you would not believe possible before. All the false illusions that kept you bound will drop like dead flies. And you will walk so much more lightly, happier and relaxed through this world, that your life today will feel like walking with a giant stone on your shoulder. It will be like you were Atlas, having the world on your shoulder and then someone came by and took it off of your shoulders and send you on everlasting vacation.
Maybe it’s obvious, but here in a nutshell are a few reasons why you might want to know your own nature:
- Happiness: You will be happier when you can express who you are. Expressing your desires, moreover, will make it more likely that you get what you want.
- Less inner conflict: When your outside actions are in accordance with your inside feelings and values, you will experience less inner conflict.
- Better decision-making: When you know yourself, you are able to make better choices about everything, from small decisions like which sweater you’ll buy to big decisions like which partner you’ll spend your life with. You’ll have guidelines you can apply to solve life’s varied problems.
- Self-control: When you know yourself, you understand what motivates you to resist bad habits and develop good ones. You’ll have the insight to know which values and goals activate your willpower.
- Resistance to social pressure: When you are grounded in your values and preferences, you are less likely to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
- Tolerance and understanding of others:
Your awareness of your own foibles and struggles can help you empathize with others.
- Vitality and pleasure: Being who you truly are helps you feel more alive and makes your experience of life richer, larger, and more exciting.
Now that you are convinced that self-knowledge is worth having (not that you needed convincing!), we’ll move on to those “VITAL Signs” of self-knowledge.
The Building Blocks of Self: Your VITALS
The capital letters in “VITAL Signs” form an acronym for the 6 building blocks of Self, or VITALS, for short. The letters stand for: *Values; Interests; Temperament; Around-the-Clock; Life Mission and Goals; and Strengths/Skills.* The details:
V = Values
“Values”—such as “helping others,” “being creative,” “health,” “financial security,” and so on—are guides to decision-making and motivators for goals. Research shows that just thinking or writing about your values can make it more likely that you take healthy actions, for example. The motivation provided by worthwhile values can also keep you going even when you are tired, as shown in many psychology experiments. If you want to self-motivate, know your values!
I = Interests
“Interests” include your passions, hobbies, and anything that draws your attention over a sustained period of time. To figure out your interests, ask yourself these questions: What do you pay attention to? What are you curious about? What concerns you? The focused mental state of being interested in something makes life vivid and may give you clues to your deepest passions.
Many people have built a career around a deep interest in something. For example, a friend of mine broke his leg when he was 11 and was so fascinated by the ER and the ER doctors that he decided to become an emergency physician.
T = Temperament
“Temperament” describes your inborn preferences. Do you restore your energy from being alone (introvert) or from being with people (extrovert)? Are you a planner or go-with-the-flow type of person? Do you make decisions more on the basis of feelings or thoughts and facts? Do you prefer details or Big Ideas? Knowing the answers to temperament questions like these could help you gravitate toward situations in which you could flourish and avoid situations in which you could wilt.
A = Around-the-Clock Activities
The “around-the-clock” category refers to when you like to do things—your biorhythms. Are you a morning person or a night person, for example? At what time of day does your energy peak? If you schedule activities when you are at your best, you are respecting your innate biology. As I look back on my life, I realize I’ve been a morning person since birth. Those fun, sleepovers with girlfriends? I loved being included, but I didn’t like staying up late.
One joy of my adult life has been finding a partner with biorhythms like mine. We wake up early and go to bed early; we both get snappy unless we eat three square meals a day. We hate brunch. While the idea of biorhythm preferences may sound trivial compared to lofty qualities of self like “values,” your daily life is more pleasant when you are in sync with your biology. In every area, it’s easier to enjoy life when you don’t waste energy pretending to be someone you aren’t.
L = Life Mission and Meaningful Goals
“What have been the most meaningful events of your life?” This was a question I liked to ask my friends. One Lady of about 30 got teary-eyed as she tried to answer. “Recently,” she told me, “I’ve found it incredibly meaningful to care for my aging father as he declined and went into hospice. I was able to be there and hold his hand when he died”. As we talked about the difficulties and rewards of her father’s last days, she had an “aha” moment and realized she wanted to become a hospice nurse. (She accomplished her goal and was one of the leaders of her class.)
Ask yourself the same question: “What have been the most meaningful events of your life?” You may discover clues to your hidden identity, to your career, and to life satisfaction.
S = Strengths
“Strengths” can include not only abilities, skills, and talents, but also character strengths such as loyalty, respect for others, love of learning, emotional intelligence, fairness, and more. Knowing your strengths is one of the foundations of self-confidence; not being able to acknowledge your own superpowers could put you on the path to low self-esteem. Become a person who “takes in the good,” listening for compliments and noticing skills that could be clues to your strengths. Example: An acquaintance tells you she loves the soothing sound of your voice. What could you do with that knowledge? Likewise, knowing your weaknesses can help you be honest with yourself (or others) about what you are NOT so good at. You might decide either to work on those weaknesses or try to make them a smaller part of your personal or career life.
Being True to You
Even if you know your “VITAL Signs,” it’s hard to remain true to yourself because you are constantly changing and because society’s values often conflict with your own. Yet it’s very hard to know myself. I get so distracted by the way I wish I were, or the way I assume I am, that I lose sight of what’s actually true.”
For all of us, being yourself sounds easier than it actually is!
But there are a few signposts. When you’ve made a discovery about one of your “VITAL Signs,” you’ll feel a sense of excitement. Acting on self-knowledge will give you energy and save you energy. You’ll feel freer and stronger because you no longer conform to how you “should” feel, think, or act. For example, I can remember my relief when I realized I was an introvert. How comforting it was to give myself the gift of time alone without wondering if I were a freak of nature!
Written by Oloyede Gbenga
Source: Pedro gee