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“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom,” said Socrates. Wise fella.

But you should take into account that while knowing yourself is desirable, it is neither the sole objective of self-analysis, nor the sole result. You can know yourself but you have to want to do that for a reason (purpose, for example). And once you know yourself there is a kind of added benefit.

To identify that benefit, consider this question: “Unless I understand myself, how can I expect others to understand me – and to understand others, myself?” In my latest book, The Way, I describe a process for discovering your personal values and rules, those states of being and definitions of what is and isn’t ‘right’. Not ‘right’ in the legal or even moral sense – they are matters for you – but ‘right’ in your own mind and soul. These values and rules are the reasons why other people annoy you, and why you feel guilty when you act in a way that you know isn’t ‘right’.

Having discovered your own values, you also discover that other people have values and rules – and they can be (often and routinely ARE) different to yours. They may use the same words, but they define their values and set their own rules for interpreting when they are or aren’t, or someone else is or isn’t, ‘compliant’.

That’s why, for example, as a time management and personal organising nutcase I get absolutely tampin’ mad (serious tampin’ – no g) when my beloved wife doesn’t display quote the same levels of effort in their regard.

Look at your own personality conflicts at work or in the family – are they merely the result of seeing things differently – of placing different levels of importance on stuff, or playing by different rules?

Once you know you have values and rules and others do as well, you are most of the way to understanding others better, and to being able to communicate at a higher level. Instead of (as we all do) listening while rehearsing our pithy comeback or superior argument, we try to fully understand the meaning of what is being said – the hidden, unstated concerns and motives.

That’s the problem with Twitter. You have 240 characters on a digital page to express an opinion. People read what you write, think they understand you despite having never met you, and make a conclusion – but a conclusion based on their values, paradigms and conditioning. They don’t read what you mean – they read what they have decided you mean.

Good reason for not getting involved.

Take some time to consider what is important to you, and then define that exactly. Recognise as you do so that what is important to you is not necessarily as important to others, even if they say they value the same thing. They may define it differently, or they may place that value on a lower rung in preference for something that is more important – to them, if not to you.

Shameless plug – my book The Way deals with this in 150 pages of observation, explanation and encouragement for a reader interested in discovering exactly what it is they’re ‘about’. Which gives you an advantage over anyone who hasn’t the foggiest idea.