To understand yourself is to know the way your mind works. It is comprehending why you behave and react in certain ways. It is discerning what your strengths and flaws are, in character and in skill. It is recognising what your biggest dreams are, where your priorities lie, what you care most about. To understand yourself is to decipher the workings of your brain, and discover what special building blocks inside you make you, you.
It’s a vital key to any healthy relationship and can lead to so many amazing things like self-love, an increased sense of confidence, and being a better communicator. These all in turn lead you to choose better relationships for yourself and to better decision-making when it comes to nurturing those relationships in the wisest way possible.
It may sound ironic to say that a relationship between two people work can only work if the two people in question are strong individually but it’s true! And it needs to be reiterated more often.
How understanding who you are can lead to better…
Self-love is when you look after your own wellbeing and happiness. You start taking care of your mind and your body. You invest more time into things that will bring you long-term happiness.
When you truly love yourself, it shows. You exude confidence, and warmth. You become the best version of yourself, someone your significant other is proud of and inspired by. You are more generous with your love, providing your partner as much support as they need in times of trouble, and showing them that they are loved on a regular basis.
Because what happens when we don’t love ourselves? Insecurity becomes a regular guest in our minds, bitterness lurks on the outskirts and gloom is never far behind. Nobody enjoys being around someone who predominantly exudes negativity, so invest in your own long-term happiness and look after yourself first.
Confidence comes from knowing who you are, and believing in your abilities. It is a many-stepped process. The first step, however, is understanding who you are, what you believe in, and where your strengths lie.
Being self-assured has two significant benefits to a relationship. Firstly, like with self-love, it turns you into someone your partner can be even prouder of. Having confidence makes you a better conversationalist because you feel self-assured enough to chat and discuss issues with people as equals (which, might I add, is an especially valuable asset to have when meeting your girlfriend or boyfriend’s family and friends!). Confidence helps you stand up for yourself; it helps you stand up for others, it helps you do a better job in whatever you’re doing because you simply believe you can do it better now.
The second major benefit that springs from having self-confidence is its positive effects in your private life. Confidence is attractive. When you’re being intimate with your partner, feeling confident about your body and believing that your partner finds you irresistibly sexy, will make the entire sexual experience more enjoyable. Understanding yourself includes becoming familiar with your body, learning what turns you on, and how to give yourself the most sexual pleasure. Simply put, being confident in this regard means being brave enough to communicate to your partner what things turn you on, which will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling sexual experience for both of you.
One of the biggest killers of any relationship is poor communication. When there is something troubling you, and your partner ask you what the matter is, many of us have the tendency to shut them out.
Understanding yourself allows you to better comprehend your idiosyncrasies. When they unintentionally cause an argument to elevate or worsen, you will be able to recognise those behavioural responses, and then explain to your partner what the real issue is, so both of you can work it out together.
It also helps you to decipher what you require to feel fulfilled in a relationship. Some people may need to talk to their partner every day, other people might need more physical intimacy. If we never discern what it is we need from our partners, we will never be able to effectively communicate it to them, and thus they will never be able to help.
How you can start your journey of self understanding
The simplest way to find out who you are is to be alone. Whether that’s doing travelling on your own, moving out of home, or just delegating some ‘me time’ everyday.
You will have no one around to rely on but yourself and your abilities (or lack thereof). With only your thoughts and ideas to entertain you, you will have time for reflection, meditation and introspection. Your strengths, weaknesses and priorities will quickly become startlingly clear to you, and you will be necessitated to confront them. And this is great!
For instance, say you decided to travel around Asia on your own, and you find that it’s meeting new people that completely terrifies you. You will eventually be forced to do it, whether it’s to ask someone to take a photo of you, or to enquire the way to Angkor Wat. The more you do it, the more your confidence in your abilities will increase, and the better you’ll be at approaching strangers. Once you’ve done it a few times, you will start loving yourself a bit more, because you have reaped such happy rewards from conquering this fear.
Think about it this way: you can’t get to know someone without spending time with them, right? And you are the person you need to know the best in this world.
Explore new and existing hobbies, whether that’s reading, boxing, or furthering your knowledge on astronomy. Whatever it may be, take the time to discover and exercise these interests — doing so will subconsciously affirm that you care about yourself and your self-growth.
Being good at something also increases your confidence twofold. And finding new great things that you love will give you so much more zest for life. So invest time in meaningful things! You will become better at things that you love, and a more well-rounded person by discovering new things to love.
Act now – understand yourself and make the most out of your relationships!
Our hunger for self-improvement should be constant. Whether you are in a relationship right now or not, understanding yourself better can benefit every kind of relationship, not just romantic ones. The process can, and will, take its time but the decision to do better by you will only lead to more positive and meaningful relationships later down the line.
So be more introspective, and be more proactive! You and your significant other (or future significant other) deserve the strongest fighting chance!
Supported by the City of Melbourne through a community grant, this story is part of a year-long PEER Project which aims to help international students build healthy community, explore and find peer-support on issues around identity and gender, discuss common struggles and stereotypes, and gain the confidence to navigate current and future relationships.