When you know yourself, you know what you want. You know what makes you happy and fulfills you. You’re more likely to say no to things that don’t serve you and you’re less likely to settle, said Natasha Lindor, a coach who helps professionals have a successful career while working less and living more.
You’re more likely to “attract people, situations and experiences that align with what you want.” You’re more likely to build a meaningful life. Below, Lindor shared five ways we can get to know our true selves better.
“When you meditate regularly, you’re able to quiet your mind [and] increase your sense of balance, joy and inner peace, [which is] the perfect breeding ground for learning more about [yourself] without judgment,” said Lindor, founder of The AND Factor. Here’s how to start meditating.
2. Uncover your core values.
For Lindor’s clients the biggest positive changes come from identifying their core values. It’s important to re-examine your values, because what you’re living by today may not reflect what you truly value, she said. Rather, it may be a product of what you were taught or years of internalizing others’ expectations.
“Once you figure out what you really want today, then you’ll want to align what you do every day with your top values,” Lindor said.
(Psych Central readers can download a free 5-step blueprint from Lindor’s site to help you identify your core values.)
3. Relinquish expectations.
“When you set expectations for yourself and decide that you won’t be happy until you reach those expectations, you block yourself from being your true self,” Lindor said. Letting go of expectations helps you know yourself and just be yourself in all sorts of situations, whether you’re giving your full focus to a project or a conversation, she said.
Take some time to examine your expectations, and then let them go. (Think of it as an experiment or an opportunity to just be, without any prerequisites or conditions.)
Sometimes expectations come in the form of shoulds (or shouldn’ts). I should work more. I should do everything myself. I should become a doctor. I should get higher grades. I shouldn’t make mistakes. I shouldn’t hire help. I shouldn’t take time off. I shouldn’t make less money.
4. Relinquish conditional relationships.
Others’ expectations can overshadow and blur our true selves. “Too often we are so busy living up to someone’s expectations of ourselves or how we should behave in a relationship that it becomes hard to know what we really want, especially when those expectations feel oppressive to us,” Lindor said.
For instance, let’s say you have a friend who loves to gossip and complain every time you hang out. You, however, don’t enjoy either. But you get sucked into both when you’re with this person. “By spending time with this person, you’re being someone you’re not and moving further away from your true self.”
5. Practice self-care.
“Doing what makes you feel good and most relaxed will help you connect with your true self,” Lindor said. This can include everything from taking a yoga class to reading a great book to going to bed early. “It’s so much easier to get to know your best self when you’re feeling rested and relaxed.”
Knowing yourself goes beyond knowing your likes, dislikes and preferences. According to Lindor, “it’s knowing what makes you feel excited, really excited — the things that turn you on and feel like you’re living such a soul-satisfying, deeply gratifying life.”