Inside. . .

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.“ — Masaru Emoto

If you look up anything along the lines of “What do you mean by self-understanding and self-concept?” you probably experienced what I did. A ton of psychological talk and scientific explanations with enough “self” definitions to add up to an overwhelming notion that no one really knows or fully understand concepts of self and what drives them. Despite these brain puzzles, self-understanding is an important concept to grasp. That’s because understanding of self is the foundation for finding the life you want to live – and then creating it. Developing your self-understanding will improve your life, guaranteed.

Here are some explanations about self-understanding, self-awareness, and self-concept in a way that might actually make sense.

Self-Understanding – Self-understanding is your ability to understand who you are and what led to who you are. You understand your thoughts, feelings, and actions, as well as the why behind them. This recognition of your motivations helps you develop your sense of identity. Essentially, it encompasses the answer to the question, “Who am I?” with the evidence to support it. Think of it like tackling a complicated math problem. Some people don’t know how to solve it. Others can write down the correct answer, but they don’t really understand what steps went into solving it. Some individuals, however, can show all their work and understand the steps leading to the correct solution.

Having an understanding of self includes both aspects: an answer to yourself and knowing how it came about. Think of self-understanding as the broadest and deepest layer of how you think about yourself. It’s like viewing yourself in your “Room of Life” from an outside, objective perspective.

Self-Awareness – Self-awareness and self-understanding are sometimes used interchangeably, and that’s not a bad thing. However, if you want to distinguish the two, you can think of self-awareness as the first step to understanding of self. Self-awareness is being aware of yourself and your life. Before you can understand why you do something, you’ve got to recognize what you’re doing in the first place. This means identifying your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the present moment. Being self-aware also encompasses things like your values, aspirations, and patterns, among others.

If self-understanding is like looking in from an outside perspective, then self-awareness is like turning the lights on in the room. You’re aware of what’s happening. You’re also aware of your self-concept.

Self-concept – The last “self” in our self-trifecta. Self-concept is the label you give yourself when answering the question “Who am I?” It’s how you see yourself and, more importantly, the words you use when describing how you see yourself. Our sense of identity is a complicated thing, but it begins with our self-concept. It’s crucial to understand that self-concept is the end of the statement, “I am…” It is not the end of the statement “I feel…”  This distinction is because self-concept takes on a more permanent nature. If the Room of Life is your self-understanding, and the light is your self-awareness, then the nametag you put on is your self-concept. And it influences everything in your life bot known and unknown.

Self-understanding allows us to see what labels we give ourselves, where they come from, and how positive or negative they are to us. Then, once we understand everything, we can make the necessary adjustments. Developing our self-awareness also gives us more evidence to work with. We don’t have to guess who we are; we can draw informed conclusions. This comes from check-in questions like:

  • How does this make me feel?
  • What do I want at this moment?
  • What did I learn from this?

By developing our self-understanding, we can better align our life with our core values. The abundance of  literature on “self” can be overwhelming. Don’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty distinctions and explanations. Instead, put your focus on the benefits of self-understanding and how to develop your own understanding of self.

You can start by following these six strategies:

  1. Become more self-aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions
  2. Notice how you talk to yourself
  3. Learn to silence your Inner Critic
  4. Ask yourself better questions
  5. Seek feedback from others
  6. Always stay open to rethinking your identity

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

Peace and Love, Jim

#inside #thedailybuddha

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