You know what starting a new job, going on a first date, and your first day of school all have in common?
You’re likely to get advice from your friends or family to “Just be yourself” in all of them.
But, what does that even mean?! How exactly does one be themselves? And don’t I have to know myself first?
So, how do you define yourself?
Many people define themselves through their profession. While others might identify themselves with their marital status. All of that is well and good but again, is that all you are, just a lawyer, just a husband?
You are so much more than any worldly title, and if you live your life just through them you’ll end up only taking action those titles allow.
This is why it’s so vital you get to know yourself, on a deeper level, realizing that you have so many different layers.
As you go through life, you add more layers to yourself while shedding others, and the more you come to know your layers, the more at peace you are with yourself, and who you truly are.
So, here are 5 ways you can get to know yourself a little better.
If you’ve never journaled before then I won’t sugar coat it, it won’t be easy at first.
That’s primarily because we go through life mostly on auto drive. Imagine, that all your life you’re in a car that’s moving but with no one behind the wheel.
The first time you get behind that wheel and take back control of that car, you’ll probably feel extremely awkward, not knowing where to place your hands, what seat position is more comfortable for you and you’ll find yourself swerving here and there.
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Journalling puts your hands back on that wheel, but it’s awkward at first.
You’ll find yourself writing words, emotions, and memories that you didn’t even know where there. You’re so used to living in “auto drive”, you still didn’t find that sweet spot on the wheel to place your thumb at.
A great tip I learned from Sandy Grason, author of “Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams” is to tell yourself “I don’t want to write about…” and see what comes out.
You might write something like: “I don’t want to write about how I can’t seem to let go that my best friend forgot my birthday.”
This trick helps you get out what you’re bottling up inside, helps you get in touch with your real feelings, and thus helps you get to know the real you inside, not the one fake driving the car, a.k.a, your life.
Set a time each day, either in the morning before you start your day or late at night. Pick up your pen and your favorite notebook or daily planner and start jotting down what’s on your mind.
Even when you think you have nothing to say that day, you’ll be surprised every time of how much you’re not letting out from inside you.
While a personality test won’t tell you exactly who you are, there is a lot to be learned by knowing a bit more about your personality type.
It will help you realize why you like to organize your socks in the colors of the rainbow or why you hate going out two days in a row and love spending time with yourself at home.
There’s a lot of these online and some are completely free.
Just remember to take everything a personality test tells you with a grain of salt. While they are useful to shed light on a new perspective of things, they are not 100% accurate and you shouldn’t live your life according to what some test tell you.
Just do them once, take what you feel is right to you, trust your instincts and move on.
Some free personality tests you can take:
Choose to Spend Some Time Alone
You wouldn’t believe how much of our time is spent catering to other people’s emotions, needs and wants in life.
Instead of going out with friends on a Friday night, why not choose to stay in and do whatever you want.
Better yet, take yourself out on a Friday night. You’ll be surprised what you find yourself doing when you have no one around to consult with first.
You’ll have no one to ask if they feel like eating Chinese food, and you’ll go straight to your favorite place and order your favorite food simply because you felt like Chinese food.
Being on your own gets you in touch with the unfiltered wants inside of you, and shows you what you truly want without questioning it. Try to make it a habit of taking yourself out once a week, or even twice a month and see what happens.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself from those short few hours.
Now, this is like my previous tip but on steroids.
Traveling alone is probably one of the best ways to truly get to know yourself. You learn a lot just by spending so much time alone, exploring the world, getting to know new people, eating new food, and seeing things for the first time.
You get in touch with the wanderer inside of you and find yourself doing only the things that spark joy in your life.
This leads you to realize all the things that truly make you happy. Because you didn’t have to second guess whether you really wanted to do them or not, you just did them.
You don’t have to travel out of the country to get the benefit of traveling alone. You could simply go somewhere you’ve never been before, or a hotel room in a new city and go exploring in your own home country.
Realize That You Are Constantly Changing
If you met your future self 2, 5 or 10 years from now, you’d realise how different you are.
We are constantly changing whether we try to or not. Just one day can be the turning point in our lives and we wouldn’t even notice it.
Just because you journaled, traveled alone and took all the personality test out there doesn’t mean you have to stop doing these things because you fully know yourself now and there’s nothing left to know.
If knowing one’s self was a – one size fits all – ordeal then there would be just one book titled “How to Know Yourself”, everyone would read it and be done with it.
There is a reason there are a million and one ways to get to know yourself and that’s because what works for you now might not work five years down the road. You are constantly changing, and therefore the ways you get to know this new self of yours might change as well.
So, be patient, be creative, be open to new ways of life and most importantly be kind to yourself.
Next time someone tells you to just be yourself, you’ll understand what they mean and you’ll know exactly how to do it.