Wednesday, March 13, 2013

'Know thyself'

Shakespeare said it: "Know thyself." Mental health programs encourage people to be "students of self." Library and bookstore shelves are filled with self-help books that encourage us to learn more about what makes us tick.

This is a good thing, in my humble opinion. The more I know about myself—why I think and act the way I do, what things trigger specific responses in me, what I fear, what's important to me and so on—the more I can manage my thoughts and behaviors. Also, the more I know about myself, the better able I am to accept who and what I am.

For example, I'm one of those people who analyzes. Well, perhaps even over-analyzes! I can always think of an even better answer to a question once I get home from the social event! When I was much younger, I internally berated myself for not being quicker on my feet and thinking of better responses right at the time. Then I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I learned that for my personality type, this was quite normal. Great! Now I can simply accept that it's part of who I am.

Through the MBTI and also the Enneagram (another personality type test), I am also learning what things about my type are within my power to change so that I can be healthier. I like having choices about the things that run through my mind and about the ways I respond to situations and people. I am not necessarily tied to "the way I've always done things." It all starts with knowing myself, however. And that's a lifelong enterprise!

What have you discovered that helps you know yourself?

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