The Inward Journey: How Well Do You Know Yourself?
We spend 100% of our time in our own company, and yet many of us may be surprised to realize that we don’t know or trust ourselves very well.
In fact, many of us are quite gifted about making sure that “who we really are” never has a chance to be heard. We turn on background noise—television, radio, the Internet, or the telephone—every time we have a quiet moment during which the inner voice could be heard. We seek outside of ourselves for our answers, instead of taking the time to go within and listen, inquire, and explore our own truth.
While we may be quite knowledgeable about the world outside of us—the world we have studied, trained in, or practiced—what about the inner world?
I remember once when I was young and on a date when the man asked me if I liked a certain painting in an art exhibit. I didn’t know how to answer. Not only was I afraid of saying the wrong thing (an opinion that didn’t match his), I truly didn’t know myself well enough to know whether I liked it or not. I didn’t trust myself enough to hold my opinion in the event that he didn’t feel the same way. I simply played the “I don’t know” card and asked what he thought. I offered nothing of myself in that exchange.
While I have the excuse that I was young at that time, many of us of all ages still fail to share ourselves with others due to lack of self-knowledge and self-awareness.
If we don’t know ourselves, guaranteed that others don’t know us either.
And, if we don’t trust ourselves, guaranteed that others shouldn’t either. We are too easily influenced by other people’s desires, choices and opinions.
One of the interesting aspects of being a “public figure” or “expert” in certain arenas is that during media interviews, we are constantly asked what we think about different situations. These questions force the self-inquiry of, what do I know or think about that and why? Am I so confident about what I believe that I am willing to go on the air and say so, or write it in a book or article? What is my evidence? This inquiry process requires constant questioning and analyzing of our beliefs and thoughts.
Here are some inward journey questions to explore to get to know yourself better or to reintroduce you to yourself:
What do you believe—about God, love, health, religion, spirituality? What do you really believe? Have you ever stopped to consider whether your beliefs are actually true? Have you ever questioned where your beliefs came from and if they are even really yours or whether they make any sense? Osho said, “The belief system becomes the barrier for your eyes, you cannot see the truth. The very desire to find the truth disappears.” Beliefs cause us to stop inquiring into the truth. I invite you to inquire into the truth your own beliefs.
What are your values? What qualities, characteristics, and principles do you stand for? It is just a happy accident to live in alignment with your values if you have never taken the time to identify them. By making a conscious list of the values that you claim as your own, you can consciously live in alignment with them.
What do you love? When are you the happiest? Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking about what is wrong, what we have to do, what is next on the “to do” list, that we forget to notice (or do) what we love. Sometimes we neglect to even notice when we are happy.
What parts of yourself still need healing? The things we still need to resolve are the things that still evoke emotion. If we are still angry, hurt or ashamed by something from our past, it still needs healing.
What aspects of yourself to you love, admire and appreciate? We are so quick to find fault with ourselves. Acknowledge your strengths, talents, successes, achievements, friendships, relationships, attitude—what are you thankful for in yourself?
Explore with yourself the very same questions you might explore with a new friend or sweetheart—what are your favorites? Interests? Passions? What’s on your “bucket list”?
When we take the time to know ourselves more thoroughly, not only do we improve our ability to create healthier relationships, but we also better position ourselves to live in integrity.
Then, in our moments of being alone, we may enjoy our own company enough to turn down the external noise and turn up the inner wisdom.