Understanding yourself is the greatest adventure you can embark on.
I've been deepening my self-understand for over 7 years and it hasn't lost any magic. If anything, its appeal has only grown as time passed. It has taught me countless lessons, enabled me to gain innumerable insights, and revealed solutions that I would never have discovered otherwise.
That's why I invite you to heed the call of adventure that understanding yourself really is.
The Journey Into The Unknown
To stick with the metaphor of adventure, think of the beginning of understanding yourself as discovering an unknown land by ship.
Landing on the Shores
Your first arrival at its shores doubtlessly fills you with fear, worry, and uncertainty.
You don't know what you'll discover, what challenges you will face, and how you'll be tested. You have no idea how long your exploration will take, if your preparations have been sufficient, or if you are strong enough to overcome the challenges ahead.
But that's not all.
Upon setting foot on new land, you feel excited about what you will find, curious about what you will learn, and thrilled to unearth the many treasures that you envision.
You know that before you lies a land of endless potential. The potential to reveal the knowledge you need, gain crucial insights you can't find anywhere else, and the chance to transform yourself for the better in more ways than you can imagine.
So, landing at the shores of your self will fill you both with fear and excitement when your adventure begins.
As with most journeys, the beginning is overwhelming.
When you begin to understand yourself, you'll be overwhelmed with insights, experiences, and thoughts that you never had before. You'll discover knowledge deep within yourself that you were never consciously aware of and you'll get glimpses of solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems that you couldn't have gotten from anything outside yourself.
Mapping the Territory
But, once you've taken first tentative steps into the unknown, you'll remember familiar paths and landmarks, while you start to create a map of your surroundings.
You'll identify environments, routines, and questions that reliably produce new insights and increase what you know about yourself. You get a good feeling for your inner state, promising signs of progress, and learn to rely more on your intuition and less on your rationality. Soon, you begin to identify certain insights about yourself, that you think are authentic, reliable, and true to yourself.
Once you've mapped your immediate surroundings, you'll gain confidence in your abilities, the courage to explore deeper parts of yourself, and have fun on this exciting journey.
The more you explore your self, the more competent you become in doing so and the more your confidence grows. This growth gives you the courage to explore parts of your self that you were uncertain or even afraid of before. As you successfully extract insights from the depths of your being, you are excited about what you might find out next. Once you realize that you can never fully understand yourself in your completeness, but always extract useful insights from your explorations, understanding yourself becomes an incredibly fun way to spend your time.
Unlocking Your Endless Source of Wisdom
When you've mastered the process of understanding yourself, you'll have unlocked an incomparable source of insights that will aid you in any endeavor.
You know that external help and guidance can be helpful and even give you insights that would have taken you months or years to arrive at through trial and error. But, you also realize that most answers can't be found without and only lie within. You have created a long record of seeking insights from within and successfully extracted many that you are extremely grateful for. You also know that this source of insights will always be there for you. No one can take it away, no one can prevent you from accessing it, and no one has the same source within them that you have.
Explore & Exploit
So, if you choose to, you can always start new ventures and explore new areas of your self. You can also decide that you want to fortify your position and use the wisdom you've gained in your explorations to your advantage now. You can also combine both and explore some days while exploiting the treasures you've found on others. As with all things, the optimal balance is individual to you.
The Explorer's Toolkit
I hope that this perspective on self-understanding helps you embrace it.
I know no other method of gaining knowledge, insights, and wisdom that is as richly rewarded as this is. While it may sound very spiritual and woo-woo to some, I hope that this framing of self-understanding as a great adventure nudges you to give it a try.
The tools that you should bring on this adventure can be numerous and their effectiveness varies from person to person. I'll do a deep dive into them in future letters and leave you with an incomplete but helpful list for your first tentative steps:
Journaling. Write your thoughts down and try to understand the reasons behind them.
Awareness. Become aware of your thoughts, actions, and speech. Then reflect on them in a meaningful way.
Silence, meditation, quiet, and solitude. Remove yourself from the busyness, hectic, and noise of modern life. Sit with your thoughts and see what they reveal to yourself.
Reading. Don't passively read. Instead, reflect on what you read and especially on what resonates with you. These reactions can indicate that what you've read speaks to something deeper within you.
Experimentation. Put yourself outside of your usual surroundings, do different activities, and explore unfamiliar ways to think. You might stumble upon surprising insights.
Most importantly, remind yourself that understanding yourself is an adventure.
At the start, you have little idea of what you're doing or what awaits you. But, the deeper you go and the more you stick with it, the more insights you gain and the more enjoyable understanding yourself becomes. And once you've mastered the process, you've unlocked an endlessly rewarding treasure of wisdom that you can't find anywhere else.
So, embark on your new adventure. It's calling you right now.