“He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.”
– Lao Tzu
In case that first quotation isn’t enough to stress the importance of self-knowledge, here are a few more from other great thinkers throughout history:
“We should know what our convictions are, and stand for them. Upon one’s own philosophy, conscious or unconscious, depends one’s ultimate interpretation of facts. Therefore it is wise to be as clear as possible about one’s subjective principles. As the man is, so will be his ultimate truth.”
– Carl Jung
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.“
– Henry David Thoreau
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.“
– Virginia Woolf
“The life which is unexamined is not worth living.“
So its pretty important to understand what makes you tick! We all have an innate desire to know where we fit, how to identify ourselves accurately. Popular magazines entice you with such tests as “what kind of lover are you?”, or “find out which diet works best for you!”.
There are thousands of such quizzes out there, and hundreds of personality tests that have been scientifically critiqued. Today I will share with you 5 of the most simple and effective tools for gaining a better idea of the answer to the question “Who am I?”.
- Johari’s Window
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator
- Personality Enneagram
- Multiple Intelligence Test
*The links I am going to share with you are not official. To get the most accurate assessment requires taking an official test, often provided through a mental health professional – which both cost. You can do your own online search to find mental health practitioners in your area, or to find websites that administer official tests.*
This is an interesting concept about self-awareness that applies to everyone. It has 4 quadrants based on what I do and don’t know about myself, and what others do and don’t know about me. The goal is to decrease that which is hidden from myself and others – the unknown. This test obviously requires the involvement of others, and you can use the above link to see how.
Abraham Maslow was a developmental psychologist who published his famous hierarchy of needs in a 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation“. If you click the image below or the title above, it will take you to a quick self-test based on his 8 stages.
This is the standard when it comes to personality tests. I don’t have enough time to go into the entire history and theory of this test. It has its roots in the 4 temperaments, which is about 5,000 years old. It is based directly on Carl Jung’s theories of the 2 attitude types (introverted and extroverted), and 4 functional types (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition) which he used to describe 16 personality types. The MBTI uses these 16 personality types as its basis. You can do your own historical study online, or click the link above to take a test.
By the way, I am an ENFJ – extroverted, intuitive, feeling, judging (with high scores in the feeling and intuition). One day maybe I’ll go into this further…:)
The enneagram (pronounce in-EE-uh-gram) is ancient symbol of unity and diversity, change and transformation. This one also has plenty of history and research to back it, but it based on more spiritual and esoteric foundations. It is based on 9 personality types, as can be seen below. Click on the link above or the image below to see how to learn your type. The unofficial tests I have taken have indicated I am most aligned with The Enthusiast!
This is one that has less history than the previous tests, but it certainly helps to know how we best learn – where are your strengths? It was designed by Howard Gardner, another developmental psychologist, in 1983. It identifies 7 Intelligence Types (Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Spatial-Visual, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal). The link I share takes you to a simple self-test. I score highest on interpersonal and intrapersonal, with logical-mathematical being secondary.
So there you have it: the 5 best tools for gaining better self-knowledge. This list is certainly not all-inclusive, and there are many more ways to gain a much richer understanding of yourself. These can certainly aid you in being able to better answer “Who am I?“.