Know Yourself

20th May 2024
3 min read
20th May 2024

Lucy van Smit encourages you to Know Yourself.


Two thousand years ago Socrates told his students: If you want wisdom, Know Yourself. When I finally understood how key it is to Know Yourself in order to be a writer, I panicked and reached for book after book, searching for yet one more expert to explain the riddle of me to myself. I devoured Psychology, Philosophy, Behavioural Science, Neuroscience, Myers-Briggs personality tests, Enneagrams, Archetypes. I even listened to my brother-in-law. Don’t make my mistake. You are the expert on you. Others have no more clarity than you do, they see you through their own sticky lens. You have all your answers inside. Look there. No one is better equipped than you to do this. Self-knowledge is under the clutter in your head. 

Try these six questions. They are the questions that we ask our characters, but rarely ask ourselves. Who are you?

What do you want?

Why do you want it?

How do you do it?

When do you do it?

Where do you do it?

Know Yourself tends to focus on the question: Who are you? We often bolt from this question. Stay with me here. There is a surprising way to answer scary things.

You have the advantage of being an emerging writer. Be curious. Stay in the moment. Answer big questions like a small child who announces they want to be an engine driver when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Play with this game, rather than work hard. 

Know Yourself through your heart. Instead of over-thinking, use The Naming Game to find your answers in your ordinary day. Notice, name and write down what you discover about yourself.

The trick to doing Know Yourself exercises is do them in microdoses – little and often. This builds self-awareness, which will makes you a much better writer.

How do you Know Yourself though the small details of your life?

How do you Know Yourself by what makes you laugh and cry?

How do you Know Yourself when you dissociate from real life or switch off? We learn to disappear into daydreams as a child when we can’t fight or flee things that are too overwhelming.

How do you Know Yourself through your good enough side? Kind words, thoughts and deeds?

How do you Know Yourself through what you love? Your friends, your family, your dreams?

Write more about how you know yourself from a small detail in your ordinary life today. Pick one thing. A smile, a slap, an obstacle, your happy place. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

Starter sentence: I noticed this about myself today...

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