Knowing Yourself.


When I became a mature student studying CBT and psychology the first thing that was drummed into us by our instructor was that we must know ourselves. That this was firstly a journey into oneself, that every principle we were being taught we had to apply to our own life, that we could no longer hide in the shadows, every part of us was now up for question. 

young asian female looking at reflection
Do you know yourself? Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI on

Although the above may sound utterly scary it has in fact turned out to be a truly wonderful turning point in my life. Old belief systems that I didn’t know I could even question let alone change were suddenly under the spotlight. I found myself asking why, why did it make me feel like that? Why did it make me feel sad or angry or depressed, frustrated or critical? So many of my answers were just not good enough, mainly because so many of them blamed others for my feelings, attitudes or circumstances.

There are three principles that I want to share with you that have helped me greatly in my journey to transform my own life, Attention, Intention, and Attitude. There is a lot to say about each one so we will look at ‘attention’ this week. Come back to look at the other two with me over the following couple of weeks.

Becoming truly aware of myself, paying attention to how I was feeling and why, has turned into a journey of finding myself. In my last blog I wrote about how lives are formed, firstly by our parents but also all the others around us. Parents more often than not teaching us to become the person and character that they want us to be, rather than helping us become the true authentic self.

The problem for each of us is that the person which has been created in us is our normal, we have long forgotten our true self along with our dreams and aspirations, but there are clues, little frustrations that now and again come to the surface. 

Do you often find that there are things you feel you must do or say to find approval from others? That there is a nagging doubt about everything you do and that you rarely feel satisfied with life. That this is your lot, it’s always been this way! We often feel like a victim and often feel we need to rescue other people to sooth our own pain.

Becoming aware of what’s going on inside of us, paying attention and beginning to ask why, is the first step. I remember being in the kitchen at the beginning of my journey, my wife said something to me that made me snap at her angerly! Inside there was this flood of feelings, frustration at always feeling wrong, anger at myself for not being able to hide my feelings, bitterness as yet again I felt like a victim, powerless and stripped down, not good enough despite my best efforts.

The nett result of the above equals to “bad wife” and while she may have not been entirely right or good in what she said in that moment, it’s what we make of it, the meaning we assign to the moment. What we read into what is said, the tone of voice, the body language, we are always looking for meaning, we are ‘meaning’ making people. However, the problem lies in our interpretation, we filter what is being said or done through the belief system that life has taught us, and for the most part without question.

Taking responsibility for how we are, is the first step to freedom. To pay attention when we get a rise in feelings, after all, feelings are not facts! More often than not they are treated as such which helps us attribute blame, “you make me so angry” or “you’ve really upset me,” if it’s somebody else’s fault that we feel this way then we can convince ourselves that we may be better than we actually think we are.

To pay attention starts by asking ourselves “why”. Asking questions like what is the evidence for this thought? Am I basing this thought-on facts or feelings? Could I be making an inaccurate assumption here?

Taking a step back, pausing for a moment and put the spotlight on what you are feeling and why. Taking responsibility rather than blaming, a ‘can do’, rather than I’m stuck or powerless. The truth is life is what we make it, if we are unhappy it’s our responsibility to change, if we wait for someone else to make us happy, we will never find it.

Be brave, take courage to start the change. Start paying attention, start getting to know yourself and in doing so you can start your journey of change. Next week we will continue the journey by looking at ‘Intention’.

If you missed the first part of this series you can read it here

For more information about Paul visit his website over at 


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