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I’d Like To Get To Know Me But I Kind Of Make Me Nervous

Topics: Lifestyle & Culture | Add A CommentBy admin | July 10, 2010

Sometimes self knowledge is the greatest obstacle to self knowledge.

My brain is actually pretty
easy to map lately

Many would agree that the first step in knowing anything about life is to know oneself, so it’s interesting that we don’t know who originally said “Know Thyself”. Many of us actually go through life with little self examination – some with great results, some not. Obviously if you’re “doing it right”, thinking too much can actually lead to bad choices. But probably more often, we avoid self examination because it’s simply too uncomfortable. The fact that many people seem to operate on a rather unconscious level is why one of my favorite lines from a movie is in Blade Runner when Harrison Ford says – referring to the the artificial human that thinks it’s a real human – “How can it not know what it IS?” I personally got an interesting and rather simple lesson in self-knowledge recently while talking to a life coach, which was: One of the greatest obstacles to self-knowledge is assumed self-knowledge. I’ve always been rather self-examining; perhaps to a fault. As a result, over the years I had built up a sort of “story of myself” that was based upon things that I had learned through self-exploration over the years. The problem? I had CHANGED in many ways through those years, but since I “had my story down”, I really didn’t know myself at all. And once I started digging in, I was a little surprised. My assumption that I was oganized and focused had allowed me to become disorganized and unfocused, as I started burning out on my work in web development, my “knowledge” that I was good at fresh starts helped me procrastinate on a fresh start, and my knowledge that I had a high tolerance for stress helped me let my life become an untenable mess of ungratifying work, financial struggles, and never-ending anxiety. So how did I fix things? Well, I haven’t finished yet, which is why I thought this might be a good time to share some things I’ve learned . I’ve touched on this more humorously before, asking If You’re So Rich, Why Aren’t You Smart? and Just Who The Heck Do You Think You Are? Both of those pieces have a lot of links to online tests for things like Howard Gardner’s concept of Multiple Intelligences and Myers-Briggs based quizzes. Just Google Myers-Briggs and you’ll find hundreds more of those. They’re not a bad start. But what I found was that in spite of apparently being an ENFJ (like Oprah, Reagan, Obama, and Abraham Maslow) I was paralyzed by indecision, anxiety, and a sense of futility. Which is how I found out what was really missing for me, which was a more spiritual approach. As a result, I find myself digesting what many would consider a bizarre library of books that range from the spiritual to the disturbingly “self helpy” to the “I wanna be a millionaire” genre. I’ve listed a few below. The funny thing was that it was a couple of the sources I’d least expect that opened my eyes the most – something highlighted in this PositivityBlog piece, which makes three simple suggestions, one of which is “do the unusual thing”. Often doing the thing that is what you least want to do is what you need to do most.

Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way was recommended by the life coach I talked to, Dori Weinstein. I was initially doubtful because of the book’s self-helpy/new age vibe, but it helped me more than I ever imagined it would, with some very pragmatic and spot-on insight, delivered in an occasionally amusing style. Who knew my self-doubt was a seven-foot-tall many-fanged monster with daggers in all ten of its hands?
Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands was a major surprise to me; in spite of being written by Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts, the book is about people more than brands. As someone who had come to think of almost all their relationships through a filter of how a new person might relate to my work, I had in some ways lost touch with what those work relationships were all about. Lovemarks got me thinking both about the purpose of my work, and how it connects to actual people.
In Pursuit of Peace and I Dare Youby Joyce Meyer will be absolutely unreadable if you’re atheist, Jesus-intolerant, or can’t stand Meyer’s smarmy appearance, but they got me thinking about things in a way I hadn’t in a long time, i.e.: rather than thinking about what I want and being frustrated all the time because I don’t have it, what if I appreciated what I HAVE and figured out what life wants from ME?
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences helped me realize that one of my greatest weaknesses was my feeble intrapersonal intelligence. I’ve learned that in spite of being moderately intelligent in other ways, I actually am REALLY bad at assessing myself on my own with any accuracy.
The 4-Hour Workweek
by Timoth Ferriss makes the idea of working less and making more money sound achievable. And probably fun. He also has an amusing blog.
And here’s where you can really laugh at me if you like. Until later, when I’m laughing all the way to the bank. The following are all audio books I’d recommend. While you may not want to be a millionaire (I mean, a million dollars doesn’t go very far these days), all of these audio books are filled with thought-provoking ideas about how to think more positively, produtively, and profitably. I imagine the books themselves would be boring as all get out, but I find when I have stuff like this going in the background, real gems pop out now and then, and the cumulative effect is worth it for the energy expended.
The Psychology of Achievement: by Brian Tracy

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham

The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth by Robert G. Allen & Mark Victor Hansen

The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J Stanley PhD