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How Well do You Know Your True Self?

know your true self

Who are you?  No, it’s not a trick question and I am not asking for your name. I am also not asking for your résumé, marital status, or life history. Those things may be a reflection of who you are, but my question goes a little deeper than that.

I’m asking how well you actually know yourself as a person. In other words, who are you underneath all the trappings and titles? What do you see when you look at your very core? Who is that inner person walking around in your body, doing your job, and managing your life? How would you describe your true self?

Why does it matter who you are?

Most people are not very in touch with their true self. From a young age we are asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I think the emphasis should be more on “WHO” you want to be instead of what. In reality, “what” is just a role we play and it may have very little to do with our true identity as a person.

How can we align our life with our true self if we don’t really know who we are? How can we harmonize our environment with our deepest values and passions if we have never discovered our innermost true self?

Our ability to find meaning and purpose in this journey we call life hinges on how well we actually know ourselves. Discovering our true self can open the door to a life that feels fulfilling and exciting. Here’s a list of seven different aspects of YOU that merit your attention.

7 Things you need to discover about your true self

1) Find your values. These are the things that matter most to you on the deepest levels. What are your personal values and standards? What are your priorities and your beliefs? Do you understand why these things are important to you? What level of commitment are you willing to make to your personal standards and ethics? How true do you want to be to your true self?

2) Understand your strengths.  What natural abilities do you possess and which ones do you want to cultivate and develop? The strengths you have and those you develop are your personal assets. They give you a unique position in life and you need to be aware of them. This includes your emotional strengths and your ability to express love and appreciation.

3) Know your passions.  What are you passionate about? What is it that gets you excited or demands your undivided attention? What activities and pursuits make you feel really alive? You can’t build your life around your passions if you haven’t figured out what they are. Making sure that your passions align with your values and standards is vital when trying to create internal harmony.

4) Identify your tendencies. Your tendencies often become habits, either good or bad. Do you tend to jump into things on a whim? Do you procrastinate or over react? Knowing your habitual tendencies can help you to analyze areas that need some improvement. It can also help you identify which tendencies most contribute to your strengths and successes.

5) Acknowledge your limitations. You will never be the very best at everything. It’s better to know which skills or activities are beyond your ability for now. That way you can delegate those things to others while you focus your energy where it’s the most effective. We can all improve our abilities in most areas of life, so don’t view current limitations as permanent. Just be realistic in your personal assessment. Honesty is a prerequisite to knowing your true self.

6) Set your goals. What do you really want to achieve? What kind of person do you want to grow into? Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic. Clarity is a key ingredient when it comes to setting your goals. Clarity leads to action, lack of clarity leads to confusion and inaction.

7) Establish your direction. Where in life does your true self want to take you? Once you understand your values, strengths, passions, tendencies, limitations and goals – you need to have a destination to move toward, a direction. Don’t worry about reaching your destination because in reality – it’s the journey that counts. So pick a direction that represents genuine happiness and move toward it, and then let life unfold before you.

Take the time to get to know yourself

You are a beautiful and unique individual. You have a wonderful blend of amazing abilities and qualities combined in a distinctive and exceptional way. Why not spend some time really getting to know your true self? It will certainly be time well spent.

How well have you gotten to know your true self?
Do you feel in touch with yourself on the deepest levels?
The lines are open!

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If you’re ready to discover your core values and passions, and make a deeper connection with your true self, then you’re ready to Find Your TRUE SELF.

54 Comments

  1. Jaky Astik August 24, 2010 Reply

    Finding our true self is important, because then, we’re able to take better decisions. Decisions that help us the way our inner self wants us to be helped. We change constantly. We should constantly keep track of ourselves.
    Great post Jonathan!

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hey Jaky, this was great: “We change constantly. We should constantly keep track of ourselves.” Embracing change is liberating.

  2. Sandra Lee August 24, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan, I am glad you are addressing this topic. Personally, I lived a good part of my life on automatic as so many people do. The “7 things you need to discover about your true self” comprise a set of simple and to the point reflections that can help all of us.

    At the same time, I know the true “true” self is not defined by any of these new parameters either. They are excellent guidelines but they are also not the real you.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      So true Sandra, there are many deeper concepts that we can only describe by mentioning their characteristics and attributes because the thing we are describing must be experienced. It’s like describing the flavor of a unique food by saying that it’s like a combination of this and that.

  3. Jonathan, I’ve done ok in identifying the bigger picture items you touched on, but where I have struggled, and can still do so, is to be able to stop, pause, and be self-aware enough to understand why I’m feeling and thinking what I’m feeling in the moment. Sometimes talking to a close friend or journaling is what helps me slow down and get in touch with what’s truly going on with me.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve, an observant and honest friend can open our eyes to who we are in amazing ways if we can listen objectively. Some people are afraid of that kind of vulnerability but it can be very freeing.

  4. Marion August 25, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan
    I particularly like this because it is good to remember at any point of major change in your life.
    We assume identities for the roles that we play and when that role changes for example being a hands on mum to empty nester the time come to reassess.
    It is never too late to discover yourself or who you have become.
    Really meaningful post. Thank you Jonathon

  5. Stephen August 25, 2010 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,

    “Most people are not very in touch with their true self.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I think one of the reasons why is that it has been socialized out of us. There are so many expectations of what you should do with which you are bombarded from birth, that I think most people lose touch with their essential self.

    Great job!

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      I totally agree Stephen. Even our educational system seems geared to moving people away from the person they really are and toward filling some predetermined role. Then they are expected to accept that role as their true identity.

  6. rob white August 25, 2010 Reply

    Yes indeed, Jonathan. We all sense there is an unlimited side to us but few can identify it. We experienced it as children, but somewhere along the way the World Voice beat it out of us. It’s not a matter of adding anything new but discovering that true self that has always been there. It’s a great reminder that we all have the inexorable right to break free of those limiting ideas the World Voice offers.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Wow Rob, you said that so well. Perfect!

      PS. Rob is a contributing author to our newsletter – Sharing Life Skills. I’m sure you can see why from his comment.

  7. Dia August 25, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Very nice post! I think to understand ourselves, we have to really know our beliefs on almost every topic and to know what we like, dislike, value, our strength, weaknesses, etc…It is a life journey. Thanks for sharing

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Dia, if we start by identifying our values and passions it becomes much easier to know those other important aspects of “self” that you mentioned.

  8. Christopher Foster August 25, 2010 Reply

    Beautiful post Jonathan. Do you think it boils down to truly, genuinely loving ourselves? –grateful for the unique being that we are and the unique gift we have to give this world? Determined to explore the truth that is in us just as you so well describe. Doesn’t mean we don’t see our weaknesses mind you…

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Christopher, as I read your comment I had to wonder which comes first, the knowing ourselves or loving ourselves. I think one leads to the other and they are mutually supportive.

  9. Ben Tien August 25, 2010 Reply

    Knowing our passion is very important to do! When you have passion, you become full of zest. Each day, you have the energy and the willingness to do your work, simply because you love it. Working does not necessarily mean drudgery. When you are working passionately, you can easily address the different issues that you have to face.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Ben, indeed. When work and passion become one we are energized, excited and productive all at once.

  10. Lance August 26, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan,
    This reminds me of a question someone asked me about a year ago (perhaps I’ve been asked since then, too…I just particularly remember this one instance). The question: “What do you do for a living?” And my response (unfortunately this is not how I always respond): I make people happy.

    Perhaps that seems both “out there” and a bit wishy-washy. And maybe it is. Still…in this case…I went with my heart. And it so felt like the “right” answer. Much more so than a career, or position, or family life…

    And I think this also goes exactly towards what you are talking about here today. At least, as a start. Now…to dig more deeply into what this means…and in that whole process…a deeper understanding of who I am…

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      You know something Lance, I think if someone asked me what I think you do for a living I would say the same thing. You do make people happy, that’s who you are. I don’t think it would matter what activity (read job) you were involved in, that dominate characteristic would still find expression. You are Mr. Happy Maker and I love it.

  11. Joshua Noerr August 26, 2010 Reply

    I am so glad you put values first. I believe that if we take actions that are not congruent with our values, then we can not expect success.

    Taking an inventory of your values, and prioritizing them, is a very important step in living the life you truly want to live.

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Hi Joshua, I completely agree. If our actions are out of harmony with our values and ethics it creates internal conflict. In that state, even some degree of success won’t feel truly rewarding and the chance of self sabotaging behavior goes way up.

  12. Nea August 27, 2010 Reply

    I spoke with friends earlier today about the way we have a tendency to define ourselves by our jobs and the roles that we play. It is actually a recipe for disaster because you feel as if you lose yourself if you lose whatever it is you’ve come to identify with (job, marriage, etc).

    I’m so happy to say that I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not my job. I am not my role as a single mother. I am so much more complex than any paragraph could explain. And I love it.

    Great great great post, Jonathan!

    • Jonathan August 28, 2010 Reply

      Nicely said Nea and I agree. You are much more than any amount of words could explain. But through your blog articles your words do give up a nice glimpse of the wonderful person you are. Thanks Nea!

  13. Rob August 30, 2010 Reply

    Great post! I would have added an extra point you need to discover about your true self; this is how much willpower you have, as this is the key to self-control and one of the most important facets of goal achievement. A powerful metaphor is to think of willpower like a muscle. Willpower is a limited mental resource that can only be applied for a short space of time, just like strength from a muscle. Consistently doing an activity that requires self-control, resistance of impulses and delayed gratification will over time maximise your willpower, just like progressively overloading your muscle during weight training.

    Asking a tired muscle to workout won’t be successful, just as asking a tired brain to resist what is wants, even when what it wants isn’t what we need. Understand and plan for this: for example, to get tempting thoughts out of your head regularly visualise the positive benefits associated with the outcome of using willpower. Also, a brain, again just like a muscle, needs to be regularly supplied with energy to keep it going. Hence, the importance of correct nutrition.

    This quote sums it up for me: It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways ~ Buddha

  14. John Duffield September 6, 2010 Reply

    When I was a wee bit younger…say a hundred years ago… I figured I knew myself well. I mean what the heck…If I didn’t…. who the DID? Unfortunately, for forty five or so years, the sad answer to that question was…..nobody. But, thankfully, I eventually learned why “knowing thyself” is such a dark art. For those who might like a twenty or thirty year short-cut to discovering who they are, here’s an “insider tip”. Before applying Jonathan’s sage advice, you have to free yourself. I know. That sounds odd like a five fisted possum on steroids. To get an idea what I mean, Think of “You” as a guy or gal with a bucket, charged with drawing water from a well. Now think of “Yourself” as water in the well. To know yourself, you have to draw yourself out. If you don’t, guess what? Nobody will ever. Know who you are. Not even YOU. Okay, but what’s that got to do with you? In real life, your self and mine is hidden down a well just like that. Unless you learn how to draw yourself out, you’re toast. How do you learn to draw yourself out? That’s another story for another time. I don’t want to try Jonathan’s patience with long-winded comments. Ciao. John Duffield

  15. Rob September 25, 2010 Reply

    Once you’ve chosen your values, live them visibly every day at work and at home. Living your values is one of the most powerful tools available to you to help you be the person you want to be, to help you accomplish your goals and dreams, and to help you lead and influence others. This may necessitate changes in the way that you approach things and how you view things that happen in your life. Don’t be afraid of making that change to fulfill meeting your personal values; this is part of our life’s journey.

  16. Rocket Bunny January 8, 2011 Reply

    I was a parent pleaser up to the age of 25.Then I realized I had brought this on myself. I wasn’t unhappy with my life until I went home to visit then when asked why I was doing something, I felt the need of their approval which is not necessary as an adult but the inner child is aware of it.

  17. Nene October 15, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, your articles are so great and are helping me out on counselling my clients. We seem to be so connected as you are in line with my goals in life.
    Please Jonathan, I would love you to be my mentor as this might help me a great deal in life.

    • Jonathan October 15, 2012 Reply

      Hi Nene, I enjoy working with other counselors and coaches to help them expand their perception and their practices. Have a look at my coaching site if you are interested.

  18. Sandra Pawula April 29, 2014 Reply

    These steps are all so essential, Jonathan. At the moment, I’m called to go a step further and find ways to access the unconscious material that also plays into my life.

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