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Food For The Soul

"How To Develop Insight Into You Own Life - Expressing Yourself, Reaching Out to Others and Exploring the World" (Part 2 of 2 Articles)

Developing insight into your own life can make your life more meaningful. It can also help you better understand yourself as a person and others. By studying yourself as well as the world around you, you can discover new truths about your life and identity. Such an endeavor may take a great deal of time and energy, but it will be worth it.

Expressing Yourself

Expressing Yourself. Daily journaling can allow you to consider your deepest desires, darkest secrets, and outlook on life. Get to know yourself better by writing your thoughts down every day. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and make sure that you write throughout the entire period. Your journal will be a valuable tool to allow you to develop insight into your current self as well as how you develop over the course of many years. If you find that you have writer's block, consider using a journaling prompt such as:

  • What is the most interesting thing that happened to me today?
  • What did I daydream about?
  • What topics make me uncomfortable to write about?
  • Who are the 10 people I care about the most?
Tell your life story.

Tell your life story. Our memories often take the shape of a narrative or story, in much the same way that memoirs and autobiographies do. Articulating this life story can allow you to process these memories and make sense out of a great deal of chaotic information. Take a few minutes to think about how you might tell the story of your own life. What memories are the most significant? What life events have shaped the person you are today? What arc has your life taken? Simply thinking about your life story or talking about it with friends is beneficial. However, you might also consider more formal ways to communicate your life story, such as through:

  • A memoir or autobiography
  • A photo album
  • A short film
  • A graphic novel
Experiment with your appearance.

Experiment with your appearance. Your appearance is one of the first ways that you communicate yourself to others. At the same time, your appearance also allows you to gain a better handle on yourself. Indeed, many introspective, reflective people take some time to consider how their self-presentation is related to their values, likes, and tastes. Consider experimenting with how you look in order to understand your own tastes and, by extension, your own life. You can:

  • Wear a color you've never worn before.
  • Experiment with a new hairstyle.
  • Try to find a fashion or accessory designer you admire.
  • Remember to take standards of professionalism into account when you experiment. Some workplaces forbid visible tattoos and facial piercings for example.
Learn an art form.

Learn an art form. Many people are able to learn about themselves by engaging in some kind of creative activity. By making beautiful works of art, you come to know your own preferences. At the same time, you are honing a skill that might allow you to tell your own story more effectively. Consider taking a class at a local arts studio if you are a novice. If you already practice a craft, be sure to take time to work on it every day. Some arts and crafts you might consider are:

  • Sculpting
  • Painting
  • Creative writing (poetry, fiction, or non-fiction)
  • Blogging
  • Photography
  • Dance
  • Woodworking
  • Pottery-throwing
  • Gardening
Cultivate strong relationships.

Cultivate strong relationships. You do not exist in isolation: who you are as a person depends in large part on how you interact with other persons, especially those who are closest to you. In order to get to know yourself better, get to know your loved ones better. Not only will you discover surprising things about yourself, but your loved ones might be able to assist you during confusing or troubling times in your life. In order to cultivate strong relationships with others, you must:

  • Be empathetic.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Demonstrate active listening skills.
  • Be willing to initiate conversations and activities.
Find an objective listener.

Find an objective listener. In order to develop insight into your life, you have to admit that sometimes you might be deceiving yourself. Perhaps you are blind to your own prejudices, or perhaps you sometimes think that you are a more generous person than your actions demonstrate. In order to be able to work through your blind spots and pernicious patterns, you will need to find a smart, objective person who can help reveal the darkest corners of your life to you.

  • Many people find that talking to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can serve this key function.
Pay attention to the behavior of others.

Pay attention to the behavior of others. One key tool of self-knowledge is the information we get from observing the behaviors of those we interact with. Think about the cues you are being sent when you talk to old friends and to new acquaintances. Consider whether you can interpret them in order to develop insight into your life, behaviors, and values.

  • Be aware that not everybody can (or should) get along with everybody else. Pay particular attention to the reactions of those whom you respect, care for, and admire.
Be aware of the world around you.

Be aware of the world around you. People can be affected by their surroundings in many subtle, subconscious, yet significant ways. Do not tell yourself that you are immune to the world around you: your life has been irrevocably shaped by the world you live in. While you cannot (and should not) escape the world, what you can do is learn more about the world in which you find yourself. You might be able to understand more clearly how the world has shaped your life.

Recognize that culture affects the self.

Recognize that culture affects the self. Studies show that some cultures value speech as a tool of self-knowledge, while others value silence. Consider whether your own native culture has shaped how you view yourself and what you prioritize in life. Read about your own culture as well as other cultures in order to begin to understand how culture has impacted you.

Broaden your horizons.

Broaden your horizons.. Routines can be important and healthy in everyday life. But sometimes they can leave us stuck in a rut, unwilling to discover new places and ideas. Shake up your routine by actively seeking new and different opportunities. Some great ways to broaden your horizons include:

  • Taking a class in a new topic.
  • Reading about a brand-new idea.
  • Visiting a place you've never seen before.
  • Have conversations with strangers.

Volunteer

Volunteer Think of the causes you care about the most, and devote several hours each week to helping that cause. You will learn about your own potential as well as about the world around you. You will meet people who share your ideals and vision as well as people who might come from a completely different background. You might even discover a new career pathway by helping others.

Inform yourself on the

Inform yourself on the "goings-ons" of the world Read the news daily. Be sure that you turn to reputable journalists and news agencies so that you are getting the most accurate, up-to-date information about local, national, and international events. Take a few minutes each day to react to these events. What are your thoughts on how the world is moving? What can you do to help or change things? What is most important to you right now?