There are a myriad of books available to help us analyze our behavior and understand who it is we are. Ancient Greek philosophers engaged in deep debates to discuss this very subject, analyzing the very make up of the mind to gain an understanding into who and what we are. It was a full time job for them and so clearly a subject that required and still requires some serious attention it would seem!
In addition to this there are thousands of pop quizzes that you can take in magazines or online, which serve to provide you with answers about your behaviors and your life. They include:
- What type of girlfriend/friend are you?
- Who will you marry?
- What personality type are you?
- What does your star sign say about you?
The list is endless.
You will also find that many companies require you to take a psychometric test before employing you into certain roles. Most famous is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Psychometric Questionnaire initially created by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. The questionnaire was designed to measure how people perceive the world and makes decisions and was based on Carl Jung’s, the Austrian psychological analysts, theory around cognitive functions:
- The “rational” (judging) functions: thinking and feeling
- The “irrational” (perceiving) functions: sensing and intuition
So why do employers use this to understand whether we are capable for the job at hand over a face to face interview and evidence based on previous achievements?
Or why do we look to questionnaires or self analysis to give us an understanding of who it is that we are?
In other words why do we analyze ourselves and what do we gain from it all?
The truth of the matter is that we can only be aware of ourselves subjectively and even then there is only a small part of ourselves that we can be aware of at any one point in time. Freud identified three parts to our consciousness:
- The conscious – that which we are aware of at any particular moment
- The pre-conscious – thoughts that are not at the forefront of our minds but easily accessible almost like a storehouse
- The unconscious – material we are not aware of and do not have access to easily or at all, but that drives us and our actions or reactions
There seems to be an innate desire to understand ourselves objectively not just from the perspective of others but from the perspective of ourselves.
If you met you, would you recognize yourself?
So much takes place on a day to day basis as we interact with people at work, college or socially, those we encounter on our journey to work or college or where ever or whilst watching the television. Whilst all this is taking place externally our reactions to these events are taking place internally as thoughts and feelings, yet we cannot possibly interact with those in front of whilst proactively managing these thoughts and feelings.
Self analysis helps us to understand ourselves and thoughts and feelings and why we behave or react in certain way. It help us to tangibly understand who it is we think we are and whether we are perceived in the same way by others through their reactions or feedback towards us.
The questionnaires serve to access both conscious and unconscious personality traits. The combination of questions and the way in which they are worded prompt us to think deeper and in a different way in which we normally would thus allowing unknown aspects of our selves to come forth. It is always interesting to see whether who we are on paper is who we think we are in our minds or perhaps who we would like to be (the ideal self). And if the results are favourable how reassured do we feel? As if to say “see, I am ok…”
Yet what do the answers tell us? They teach us how we behave in certain situations. They allow us to establish our likes and dislikes and our thought patterns but who is it that is experiencing these situations? Who is doing the liking or the disliking?
Experience shows that there seems to be an internal drive, perhaps unconscious, which causes us to analyse ourselves. The question is what really causes that drive? What is it that makes us question ourselves in a bid to get those answers? What really are we asking? Is it that age old philosophical question of “Who/what am I?” and “Why am I here?”…!
So what can we gain from self analysis?Awareness as to why we behave the way we do
- A deeper understanding of our impulses and what drives us
- Insight into of our thoughts and feelings leading to emotional intelligence
- Understanding ourselves results in us being able to understand others better
- Self acceptance and a change for the better if required
Remember however “analysis can lead to paralysis”! Analysis is us questioning our every move/thought/feeling and our motives and so, if undertaken whilst in the process of socializing it can result in us coming across as stilted and not real.
Allocating time at the end of the day can allow you to:
- Give your mind and heart the focus and attention required for effective self analysis
- Allow you to sift through the days events honestly reviewing and analyzing at your leisure
- Effectively resolve any issues enabling you to ‘file’ away anything that you need to let go of
- Give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve done something great!
And remember that sometimes we can over-analyze things, when just accepting things as they are is what is required.
Ultimately self analysis is a desire to get to know and understand you!
Photo by Vassiliki Koutsothanasi