Know Thyself

Mar 07, 2024
4 minutes

“Know thyself” has been a guiding principle in Greek philosophy - so much so that it has been inscribed upon the temple of Apollo as far back as 400 BC.

In our day and age, this principle has moved into the realm of psychology. We have a big list of surveys and personality tests that help you understand yourself.

There are many reasons why this is considered as an important meta-skill…

Better decision-making: Knowing yourself gives you clarity that helps to make better decisions. It’s easier to make good decisions when you know what you want from life.

Effective Communication: If you understand yourself, you can express yourself authentically. This lets other people connect with you better - enabling effective communication.

Reduced stress and anxiety: Recognizing your stressors and understanding how you respond to stress can help you implement effective coping strategies.

Better Relationships: Knowing your needs and boundaries will let you have better and healthier relationships.

Personal growth and development: Knowing your goals(a big part of knowing yourself) gives you a direction to travel in. Every unmet goal, every setback becomes an opportunity to improve and grow.

So, how do you get to know yourself better? For obvious reasons, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for this. There is only one ‘You’ - and you have to figure out how you tick. But that said, you have a lot in common with other people. Learning psychology and philosophy will get you very far in learning how people work - and by extension, how you yourself work. This will probably get you 80% of the way to knowing yourself.

To go even further, to get to know things specific to yourself, there are a few things you can do…


Having a regular journaling practice will let you get more data about yourself. After some time of doing it, you’ll start to see patterns and insight - especially if you use a journaling practice that is specifically created for such purpose(for eg. Graph Journal).

Self Reflection

A major source of knowledge about yourself comes from your responses - or by knowing why you do the things you do. A good way to discover this is to have a self reflection practice.

The process is simple - try to ask yourself ‘why’ whenever you have a surprising response to anything. Try to list the following…

  • the preceding events(trigger) that let to this response
  • your internal thoughts/beliefs
  • emotion/feelings
  • response you had
  • the ideal response

There are different formats to do this - if you are curious, you can explore Cognitive Behavior Therapy thought diary methods.

Therapy / Coaching

It helps to have an objective external perspective - especially when you are stuck. People gain insight about themselves in these sessions all the time. Therapists have training in psychology - they can point out common thought patterns you might be having. They can help you understand how your past experiences may have contributed to your current thoughts, feelings or beliefs.

Self Analysis

There are a lot of questions that will help you understand yourself better…

  • What are my core values?
  • What do I fear?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What drives me?
  • What are my life goals?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?

This is just a short list - there are quite a few such questions. You might not have ready answers for most of these questions - but just reflecting on such questions will lead you to some interesting discoveries about yourself.

And more

Understanding yourself better is a lifelong journey. There are a lot of methods to learn about yourself - the list given above is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now that my book project has ended, I am thinking this can be my next project: Helping people know themselves better. I want to create something that helps people through this process. It can be a series of videos, or an app, or a book, or something else entirely. I don’t know the final format yet. All I know is, this is a journey worth taking, and I want to help other people take this journey.