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The benefits of knowing yourself: Why you should become your own best friend

June 17, 2022 - 16 min read

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What is knowing one’s self?

Why is it important to know yourself better?

9 symptoms of not knowing yourself

The 6 pillars of self-knowledge

Other important areas of self-knowledge

7 signs that you know yourself

How can a life coach help you?

You might have already heard the saying, “You have to love yourself before loving someone else.”

There’s truth to this phrase. In fact, you’d do well to expand this principle to include all areas of life — not just romantic relationships.

Through the hurdles of daily life, you’ll always have yourself. Only you know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. And when things get tough, you’re the first responder. 

That’s why you have to be your own best friend. 

Doing so will improve your well-being reduce inner conflict, and help you say no to things that don’t serve you. It’ll also help you relate to your friends and family in a deeper way. When you treat yourself with love and respect, you teach others to do the same.

This kind of personal growth can be a vulnerable and arduous experience. You have to trust that you can do it.

Let’s dive into the benefits of knowing yourself, why it’s important, and what to look out for.

 

What is knowing one’s self?

There’s more to knowing yourself than naming your favorite ice cream flavor. 

Self-knowledge means understanding your own sensations, thoughts, beliefs, values, and behaviors. It’s about knowing what makes you tick, why you get out of bed in the morning, and what you value in relationships. 

Examining yourself requires constant self-awareness and self-consciousness. This, in turn, shapes how you interact with others and can lead to deeper, more fruitful relationships. It also frees you from the expectations of others, allowing you to be your authentic self.

But other people may know you better than you know yourself. Studies have shown that your coworkers are more likely to give accurate descriptions of yourself than you are. It’s also common for people to overestimate their intelligence and abilities in the workplace.

Luckily, there are ways to gain more accurate self-awareness. And with it, you’ll increase your confidence, self-esteem, and productivity. You’ll have a more accurate perception of your skills, strengths, and weaknesses when you truly know yourself.

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Why is it important to know yourself better?

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Self-discovery takes time. If you’re wondering why you should bother, remember the many benefits of being true to yourself:

  1. You’ll learn to accept who you are
  2. You can let go of self-doubt
  3. Your confidence will improve
  4. You’ll make better life choices
  5. You’ll express yourself freely
  6. You will improve your emotional intelligence
  7. Self-compassion will come more easily
  8. You’ll know your worth
  9. Being disliked won’t bother you
  10. You’ll overcome your fears
  11. You’ll form better relationships
  12. Your path in life will become clear
  13. You’ll have more self-control

Even if only one of these benefits appeals to you, it’s worth getting started. You can try doing so on your own. But, if you need help along the way, BetterUp will be there for you. Together we can discover your true self.

9 symptoms of not knowing yourself

There are many negative aspects to not knowing yourself. See if you can relate to any of these:

  1. You’re very critical of yourself
  2. You lack self-compassion
  3. You’re uncertain about your path in life
  4. You cave to other people’s expectations
  5. Your relationships feel unsatisfying
  6. Your career is unfulfilling
  7. You’re stuck in problematic behavior cycles
  8. You make decisions based on fear or a sense of obligation
  9. You feel chronically alone

Some of these symptoms might be unconscious to you. Through self-discovery, you can bring them to light. Doing so will help you identify and break patterns holding you back.

The 6 pillars of self-knowledge

You’re a unique and complex individual. Because there are so many moving parts, defining yourself might feel impossible. We recommend starting with a VITALS assessment.

VITALS is an acronym for the six pillars of self-understanding. Here’s what each letter means.

1. Values

Values are what you consider good, bad, and important in life. They’re the unwritten rules that you live by. When you know your core values and where they come from, you can make decisions in line with your authentic self.

2. Interests

This includes anything that naturally draws your attention. Think of your passions and hobbies, what you do without anyone asking, and what makes you curious.

Knowing your interests will help you make better decisions about how to spend your time. It can also guide you to a more fulfilling career.

3. Temperament

Think about what gives you energy versus what depletes it. These are signs of your temperament. You might prefer solitary activities, enjoy being in large groups, or strike a balance. 

Knowing your temperament empowers both introverts and extroverts to set clear boundaries.

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4. Around-the-clock activities

This refers to when you like to do things. Are you a morning person or a night owl? When do you have the most energy? Can you survive without breakfast, or do you need three meals per day?

Knowing these things will help you schedule activities when you’re at your best.

5. Life mission and meaningful goals

Take a look at your history and identify the most meaningful moments in your life. Think about what made them special to you. This will help you discover your values and what objectives bring the most meaning to you. It can also guide your career and increase your life satisfaction.

6. Strengths

This isn’t only about your core skills, talents, and competencies. It’s also about your character strengths, like loyalty, curiosity, and compassion. 

Knowing your strengths can boost your self-confidence when you’re feeling down. You can also find work that leans into what you’re good at, which can help you excel in the long run. 

You should also be honest about your weaknesses. When you identify them, you can choose to work on them or simply make them a smaller part of your life.

Other important areas of self-knowledge

Checking your VITALs should be just the beginning. Here are some other things to do in your pursuit of self-knowledge.

1. Practice self-love and compassion

You might find things you don't like as you dive into yourself. Be mindful of negative self-talk. Don’t let it get the best of you. See if you can reframe any of your negative traits into positive ones. Are you stubborn, or are you determined? 

To deal with this, imagine yourself as another person. If your friend was beating themselves up, you would comfort them and give them a warm hug. Do the same for yourself.

Over time, you will learn to accept yourself more fully — quirks, flaws, and all. This will do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.

2. Identify your boundaries

Setting boundaries involves knowing what you need and not apologizing for it. Pay attention to your energy levels and listen to your body. It’s okay to say no to people if that’s what you need for self-care

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3. Understand and trust your intuition

Human beings make decisions every day based on intuition. Learn how yours works. Is your decision-making based on fear? Anxiety? Or do you just need a break? 

Knowing your intuition will help you abandon toxic traits, behaviors, and patterns. And, in the long run, you can teach it new behaviors and learn to trust them. 

4. Find your dreams

Everyone has dreams, big and small. Find yours. Perhaps you have a dream job, want to own a house, or hope to have kids one day. Once you know your dreams, you can make a plan to make them happen.

7 signs that you know yourself

As you learn more about your inner workings, you’ll start seeing the benefits of being happy with yourself. Here are some of the signs:

  1. You’re aware of your insecurities, wounds, and feelings. On the surface, this might not seem like a happy outcome. But when you’re aware of these things, you can take steps to address them and take care of yourself. In the long run, this will benefit your mental health.
  2. You know how to care for yourself. You'll know when to say no to socializing in favor of a self-date when you know yourself. Or, maybe you’ll initiate plans because you need to go out. 
  3. You love your whole self. To know yourself is to love yourself. And when this happens, you improve your confidence and well-being. 
  4. You respect and set clear boundaries. You can’t communicate what you don’t know. But once you understand your boundaries, you can tell people clearly what you need from them. And, when they tell you about their own boundaries, you’ll understand and respect them. 
  5. You trust your intuition. You’ll have faith in your decision-making abilities. When you know your thought patterns, habits, and natural tendencies, you’ll know exactly what your intuition asks.
  6. You know your dreams. Life is about pursuing and achieving your goals. But you can’t set goals without knowing what you want to accomplish. Having dreams helps you aspire to something more.
  7. You know your values and what drives you. Knowing your values will help you make decisions aligned with your purpose in life.

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It’s okay if you don’t relate to this list the first time you read it. Print it out and hang it on your wall or bookmark this page so you can revisit this list after you’ve tried to get to know yourself.

How can a life coach help you?

Now that you know the importance of knowing yourself, it’s time to get started.

Confronting yourself can be scary. It involves self-reflection, vulnerability, and honesty. If you need help untangling your inner workings, try working with one of BetterUp’s professional coaches. Here are some of the ways we can benefit you:

  • Providing a safe space to talk out your feelings
  • Training you to do Inner Work®, which can help you make positive changes
  • Helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses
  • Teaching you how to use your skills more effectively
  • Setting goals and making a plan for the future

At BetterUp, we want you to succeed. Now that you know the benefits of knowing yourself, you’re ready to begin your journey to self-discovery. We’re here to support you if you need us.

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Published June 17, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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