May 30, 2017

Know Thyself

Are you sick of hearing about Better Than Before yet?  Obviously it was a good book, as this is the 3rd post it's inspired.

I talk about self actualization a lot.  I use the word "I" probably more than any other on this blog.  It can feel a bit conceited or self-centered to spend so much time talking about myself, even though the focus is usually on self improvement.

Similarly, my adoration of personality quizzes seemed a bit self-indulging.  More time to think about me, hooray!

What was the point of spending so much time on self-analysis?  Maybe I should quit and spend that time doing things instead.

But it matters and now I can articulate why.

Knowing yourself is the path to self improvement, to reaching your goals, and to happiness.  The better you understand your own emotions, the way your brain works, what motivates you, and so on, the better you can work with, instead of against, your natural inclinations.

For example, my inclinations are...

...obliger, so if I want to build a habit I should focus on giving myself accountability or framing that habit such that I can see the benefits towards others.  (Ex. If I get enough sleep, I'll be nicer to my husband and more patient with my song.)

...lark, so when there's an urgent deadline looming, it actually makes more sense to put it down, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and then get up early to finish it once my brain has turned back on.

...sprinter, so attempting to schedule a few larger blocks of time to tackle tasks will save my sanity.

...abstainer, so I'm better off giving things up than trying to be moderate.

...centrovert, so my energy needs will differ, but when I'm swinging to the introvert side I need to not overschedule myself and it helps to come prepared with conversation topics and a memorized elevator pitch.

...detail-oriented, so I need to make sure I have a clear end goal and purpose before diving into the minutia.

In addition to using this self knowledge to make effective habit strategies, it helps with making choices for your own happiness.  This is from The Happiness Project and Gretchen's commandment to "Be Gretchen."

But you can't be yourself until you know what you are.  So self discovery is crucial to integrity.

On the topic of knowing myself, I've been trying to "Be Jenn" and get clear with myself which things I like, despite not wanting to like them and which things I don't, despite wanting to.

Now that I know myself a little better I can let go of my own misconceptions about myself and admit...

...I like YA, historical romance, and fairytale adaptations.  My standards for quality are low.

...I don't like classical music nearly as much as electronica, rock, and show tunes.

...I like listening to music but I'm not "into" music.  It's nice but not deeply important to me.

...Similarly, I'm not a "dog person."  I like my dogs and dogs that are well behaved.  Kind of like children.  Mine and other people's if I know them and/or they're not screaming.

...Just because I like doing something once doesn't mean I like it as a hobby.  I'm a novelty-lover so trying new things is more fun than sticking with one.

...I'm not spontaneous.

...I'm not that into science.  Online article = yes.  Entire book = no.

...I like the idea of video games/computer games more than I like actually playing.

...I don't like drawing or painting as much as I used to.

I suppose none of this seems like a big deal to anyone other than myself, but some of those things are almost painful to write down.  My identity as an "artist" was one that I held onto for a long time and that made me feel special in high school.  Admitting that I don't like art the same way anymore is hard.

Meanwhile, there are things I wanted to be that I'm not.  I want to be intellectual so I push myself towards classic books and music and science.  But I'm really not that interested and it can be a drag to force myself.

Being myself means I can stop wasting time on habits I pursue only because of these false identities I've built for myself.  At the same time, it means I can use my self knowledge to work on improvement and reaching goals.  I talked about this one already - working with my nature instead of against it.

And now that I know my nature a little better, I can do everything else better too.

What are some of your tendencies?  Do you feel like understand yourself?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. Okay so you already know that I love these posts. AND, it's your blog, so talk about yourself as much as you want!!! That's what it's for! ;) I love reading people's posts about themselves because it still forces me to think of myself too. I'm an obliger too, and I WANT to be an abstainer overall. We are definitely similar in a lot of ways. I can't wait to read her newest book with more advice for the tendencies...not only do I want to figure out better ways to work within my own tendency, I want to figure out ways to support my husband (I *think* he is a rebel, but I'm not 100% certain).

  2. Hmmmm your statement I like the idea of video games/computer games more than I like actually playing made me really think about a lot of things in my life that I like the idea of....but don't actually enjoy the whole process. Like crafting. I love the idea of pinteresting all the things and going shopping for the supplies but I dont actually like sitting down and doing it.

    And I agree with Heather, it is your blog so you should talk about yourself and say "I" as much as you want!

  3. I have Ruben's book 'The Happiness Project' but I haven't read it yet. I think it's very interesting and beneficial that you put so much stock in knowing yourself. I imagine that makes you much more productive and efficient. (Similar to knowing all about a machine or trade making a professional more skilled than those who don't.) If I enjoy and get through the first book, I'll have to check out this one. I don't read a lot of self help or self realization books, but I'd like to try them out!

  4. Jenn. I need you to just get out of my head, okay? Because you are totally beating me to the punch on all these posts and doing everything better than me =D I am slowly coming around to the idea that I have changed too and trying to figure out exactly how and what to do about it, lol. Gonna have to try this book.


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