Why don’t we know ourselves well and how to know ourselves better?
Most of us are told to know ourselves and improve ourselves to live a better life.
There’s just one problem. We don’t know what we know and what we don’t know. We have an illusion of ourselves. How are we supposed to know ourselves, know patterns clearly and change them happily?
Let’s explore the concept of knowing yourself and how to know yourself. So that you can make better decisions without being in conflict with yourself.
George Foreman was an American professional boxer.
He was an unbeatable boxing champion from 1969 to 1974. Foreman turned professional in when he had a total of 13 fights that year, winning all of them (11 by knockout). In 1974, there was a great match between George Foreman against a famous boxer Muhammed Ali.
This iconic match was called ‘Rumble in the jungle’.
Foreman was more favourite than Muhammed Ali but Ali surprised everyone and knocked out Foreman in the 8th round. It was his first-ever defeat in the boxing ring. He was unable to secure another title opportunity, Foreman retired after a loss to Jimmy Young in 1977. It was George Foreman’s first-ever defeat in the boxing ring. Three years later, not being able to get a rematch with Ali, Foreman retired.
But that was not the end.
Ten years later he announced a comeback, and in 1994 at age 45 won the heavyweight championship titles by knocking out 26-year-old Michael Moorer. The reason for his comeback was not because he wanted to do boxing again but because he lost all of the money he made from his boxing career in the real estate business.
He was almost going to be homeless.
He could not utilise his skill of one profession to another profession. There are many examples of people who were superstars, celebrities or famous sportsperson who could not become successful in other professions.
We often fail to judge ourselves.
We fail to understand ourselves. We believe that if we are doing great in one thing, we can do great in another thing too. We often fail to know what we know and what we don’t know. We don’t know our strengths and weaknesses. We fail often because we don’t know ourselves well.
Our plans fail.
We set goals and we fail to stay focused. We want to change the habit but we can’t. We follow the process of someone who is already successful but it doesn’t work for us. How many times have you tried to build a habit but failed?
Why is it that a process will work successfully for someone else but not for you?
You can change and improve your situation Only if you know yourself well enough. You won’t face the same problems again and again if you know your patterns. A famous quantum physicist Richard Feynman says: “The first principle is you must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool.”
When we know ourselves, we can take better decisions without being in conflict with ourselves.
We can identify our patterns clearly and we can change them happily. In this podcast episode, we are going to discuss two things.
- Why we can’t know ourselves?
- What’s the process to know ourselves?
- A magic shortcut to know yourself and even others quickly
We are far too overconfident and have an illusion of what we know.
It was found by two psychologists, Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil while they were doing a research experiment at Yale University If you asked one hundred people on the street if they understand how a refrigerator works, most would respond, yes, they do. Ask them some more questions such as how a mobile phone works, a fluorescent light works or even how a flush toilet operate, they would say yes, they do.
But ask them to then produce a detailed, step-by-step explanation of how exactly a refrigerator works or a flush toilet works and you would likely hear silence or stammering.
This powerful but inaccurate feeling of knowing is what Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil in 2002 called, the illusion of explanatory depth. They found that “Most people feel they understand the world with far greater detail, coherence, and depth than they really do.”
Most people think they know themselves well.
They have poor self-knowledge and they don’t fix their self-discovery process. The average understanding of everything people know about themselves is only 2 out of 7. The illusion breaks only when you dig deep introspectively or when you fail at a task. When you have a high self-concept and self-clarity, you will see things around you more accurately. So, what is the process to know ourselves? Let’s find out in the second part, shall we?
What happens when you shake the glass of water with dust particles in it?
If a glass of water is clouded with dust particles, there’s nothing you can do to make the water clear. But if you allow the dust to settle, it will clear on its own, because clarity is the water’s natural state. After some time, the clear water emerges. Our mind works in the same way. To ourselves better, we have to shut down all other distractions and dive into ourselves.
Well, you would say, “Yes, I heard that. Tell me how to do it.”
It’s too difficult to when we sit still and stay calm. Our mind goes on the ride of thoughts. But here’s a fact: Clarity is your mind’s natural state. There is one of the most efficient ways to be clear, look deep into yourself and know yourself.
It’s called journaling.
All the greatest personalities from history had journals. Such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Mark Twain, Socrates, Napoleon and so on. Journaling helps you clarify your thoughts and feelings and get to know yourself better. Journaling allows you to focus on what’s inside you and helps you reflect on your experiences.
So get a notebook and start journaling the key elements of self-knowledge.
Write down your values and interests. What do you believe in? What will never change for you? What do you like to do and what you don’t like to do? Note down the specific feeling in any specific moment or experience? What are you afraid of? What are you really good at and what are you not really good at but you wish you improve? Write down your life goals and mission. What do you want to accomplish? Keep track of your habits.
At the end of the day, read what you wrote in your journal.
Find out what have you achieved and what have you not achieved. When you write, your mind becomes clear and you will know things that you never knew about yourself. Keep writing every day. Make it a habit.
I know it’s a lot of work but it’s work worth doing.
The treasure or secret that you are looking for is right inside your mind. Let it out by journaling. It’s time-consuming but you should do it. There is also a way to know yourself and even others better very quickly. Let’s talk about that magic shortcut in the next part, shall we?
Can you explain any art?
Let’s say you have to explain the music that you like. Can you do it? Can you explain dance moves theoretically? Can you logically explain the painting? Not everything we are capable of knowing and doing is accessible to or expressible in language. This means that some of our personal knowledge is off-limits even to our own inner thoughts! Perhaps this is why humans are so often failing to know ourselves because there is more going on in our minds than we can ever consciously know.
So, how can we get those things out of our minds that we can not describe in language?
A famous marketing consultant called Roy H. Williams gives us a clue. He shared the words of Maggie Tufu from page number 398 from the book ‘The Engines of God’ “Show me what a person admires, and I will tell you everything about them that matters.”
Roy Williams shares a list of things if you want to know yourself better.
Without thinking too much quickly make a list of:
2 favourite visual artists
3 favourite poems
4 favourite stories
5 favourite movies
6 favourite songs
When you’ve made these lists, find out what’s common among them. Your creative brain will tell you who you are. Try out. That takes us to the end but we are not going to finish this podcast as we always finish.
Do you remember in the first part of this podcast, we talked about the famous boxer George Formen who became almost homeless after becoming world champion?
What happened to him afterwards?
It ended up well. He made a comeback and at the age of 45, he won the fight against Michael Moorer who was only 27 years old. He became the oldest heavyweight boxing champion.
The story didn’t finish here.
He was listening to a speech by Mary Kay Ash who is the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. And Mary Kay said, “My father told me when I was young that if you learn to sell, you will never be hungry.”
This message hit George Foreman like a strong punch.
He started seeing himself as a salesperson. He developed the personality of being the greatest salesman in the world. He was approached by a kitchen equipment company called Salton. They wanted him to sell their portable cooking grill. The company could not afford him to pay so they agreed to share 40% of the profit with him.
Surprisingly, he made more than he earned in his boxing career.
He sold nearly 100 million units of the cooking grill and made over $200 million dollars from this deal. Things changed when he knew himself well. It can happen at any time.
So, what can you do after listening to this podcast?
When you know yourself better, you can deal with inner conflict better and make better decisions. To know yourself deeply, start writing a journal. Write down your feelings, thought, goals, likes and dislikes.
You will see your reflection in the journal.
It’s very powerful. Also, find out what you admire and who do you admire. Find out what’s common among them. This will show you who you really are at a deeper level.
Read next: Why does someone else’s opinions shape our life? We seek the approval of what would people think if we do this or do that.
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