What is the Importance of Knowing and Understanding Yourself?

What’s the importance of knowing and understanding yourself? This is a profound question! 

The short answer is:

You must understand yourself at a deep level to relate authentically to others.                                                                 

Read on for more distinctions in this concept.

Most Important Reasons for Self-Knowledge

You simply must know yourself to relate and work effectively with others and with yourself. This is true for anyone, even if you work alone in a cave!  It’s doubly or triply important for leaders, parents, spouses, and others responsible for other people. The importance of knowing yourself can hardly be overstated.

The Benefits of Self-Knowledge

The benefits of self-knowledge are:

  • Being confident of what you can expect of yourself.
  • Relating confidently and authentically with all around you. This includes yourself, your peers, those you love, those you lead, those you serve, and those who serve you.
  • Being confident and authentic in assigning work to others.
  • Genuinely supporting all around you.



What Does Knowing Yourself Mean?

The concepts here are my own. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan, in their new book The Gap and the Gain, have strengthened them for me immeasurably. They’ve defined the following concepts much better than I could have.

This book explains how to live a happy and contented life while making huge strides forward. It also explains in explicit depth why most people are unhappy, even those who are outwardly successful. They may have high incomes, flush bank accounts and all the material things they could want. They’re still unhappy.

Those who are happy are pleased with the progress they’ve made, even if they didn’t achieve all the goals they set for themselves. They confidently and joyously move ahead to continue their progress.

Three “selves” are important to know and understand.

You’re the person you are today. You have certain abilities, assets, and knowledge. Most importantly, you have a mindset. The following will attempt to help you understand what shapes that mindset.

You were someone else in the past. Pick the time – last week, last year, ten years ago. Your past has meaning – the meaning you give it. You can change your past by making it mean something different. You don’t remember events accurately; you only remember your stories about them, how they made you feel. You can change your stories about them, give them a different meaning. In this way, you can eliminate painful scars from those events. 

Your past – the meaning you give it – largely shapes your present. When you change your story, you change your present self.

You will be a different “future self.” You define that as well. Most sane people have “ideals” – concepts they strive for. These ideals are never actually attained. They’re like the horizon. You can move toward the horizon, but it’s always far away. Goals are different – they are the specific milestones we make measurable progress toward. A goal could be a certain amount of income or money in the bank, a family vacation, a new or improved relationship, a particular car, a certain number of books published, etc. 

A purpose for your life helps you set goals and endure hardships along the way. Viktor Frankl survived three years in a Nazi death camp, with a vision of what he felt compelled to do afterward. All around him, his prison mates were giving up hope and dying. Frankl survived the terrible prison conditions through his purpose. He envisioned delivering a life-altering philosophical message to the world. He delivered that message immediately upon his release. Surely, his observation and endurance of the conditions strengthened his message. Ben Hardy discusses Frankl’s application of this principle to his own life in this 13-minute video.

Humans tend to think they are “finished products.” In truth, we are all “works in progress.” You are never who you were, and you’ll never again be who you are today. All of this is in your control, depending on how you shape your past and your future. The facts about any event are not what defines you – it’s your story about them. And of course, future events can be whatever you imagine.

Now, we come back to the “gap and gain” concept. If you measure and celebrate the progress you’ve made from the past, you’re in the gain – you can be happy there. If you try to measure your progress toward an ideal, fretting over what you don’t have, you’re in the gap – you’ll never be happy there. Fortunately, by understanding this concept, you can transform your life. Changing from gap-thinking to gain-thinking will do that.

The Importance and Benefits of Knowing Yourself

The foregoing establishes a framework for understanding yourself in a new way. With that understanding, and the changes you can make, you can be:

  • A better spouse.
  • A better parent.
  • A better friend.
  • A better son or daughter.
  • A better leader.
  • A better worker and server to others.
  • A pleasanter person to be around.

Gain-thinkers live longer (there’s documented evidence of this!) and enjoy life more.

Do these benefits make it worthwhile to know and understand yourself? I think few would argue in the negative.

Note: Archived issues of The Unity Community are available here. Search that page for keywords representing your particular interest. Most articles offer suggestions for ways of improving business and personal relationships. Keep in mind that business is done by…people. Every business concern is essentially an inter-personal concern. 

A “Shot in the Arm” Every Day!

Eric Lofholm is my friend, mentor and sales coach. He hosts a 30-minute motivational call every business day – December’s calls will focus on Napoleon Hill’s success principles.  The call is at 7:45 AM Pacific time. Register for it here. You’ll find instructions on how to join the call on Facebook, Zoom, by phone, or in a recording you can access on your time. 

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