Self-knowledge is the set of things we know about who we are. It is also the process in which every child, at a certain age, begins to discover his own body.
The word, as such, is composed of the prefix auto- , which means ‘own’ or ‘by oneself’, and the substantive knowledge, which is the ability to understand through reason.
Self-knowledge is a concept widely used in psychology and in the field of personal development in reference to the ability of introspection that a person has to recognize himself as an individual and to differentiate himself from others. In this sense, self-knowledge helps to build a personal identity.
Self-knowledge is a reflexive process in which a person acquires notion of himself, of what characterizes him, of his qualities and defects, of his limitations, needs, hobbies and fears.
Self-knowledge, as such, has several phases:
- Self-perception: is the ability to perceive ourselves as individuals with a set of differentiating qualities and characteristics.
- Self-observation: it implies the recognition of ourselves; of our behaviors, our attitudes and the circumstances that surround us.
- Autobiographical memory: it is the construction of our own personal history.
- Self-esteem: refers to the assessment that everyone feels towards himself.
- Self-acceptance: it implies the ability of the individual to accept himself as he is.
Going through the whole process of self-knowledge allows us to understand and recognize who we are, which is the beginning to learn to value ourselves and love ourselves as people.
Self-knowledge is the basis of our self-esteem, which in turn is fundamental in our relationship with ourselves and with other people.
In this respect, an ancient Greek aphorism dictated “know yourself”, because he considered that this was the basis for accessing wisdom.