Why knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom


Kevin Mangelschots

To understand others, and how the world operates, we must first know ourselves. And we already know that knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

There’s a large amount of precious information stored in our own mind that we can use to enhance our personal existence, and that of others. That is if we’re willing to be introspective, and to explore our psyche.

That’s why knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.

“Know yourself” written in black letters on an orange background with pencils pointing to that quote.

The power of knowing yourself is that it teaches you all about yourself, others, and the world itself. Obviously, this can be used to our personal advantage if we’re willing to apply that knowledge.

It teaches you about yourself

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom because it teaches you to understand yourself, and what makes you tick. This is the precursor to understanding those around us.

When you explore your own thoughts and actions, you get to know and understand why you’re carrying out the things you’re doing. A lot of the things we tend to do are done subconsciously, without truly thinking about it. That’s why it’s so vital to understand why we’re exhibiting said behavior to make sense of it.

Constantly asking yourself the ‘why’ question can lead to a much better understanding of your own mentality. When you understand how your mind works, and how your thoughts flow, then you also understand others because they’re human, just the same as we are. That means they’re basically an extension of our own psyche.

That’s not to say that we will always think the same, and that’s for the better. What an absolute boring and stale world would it be if everyone would think and act the same. That would just mean that the world became stagnant without any progression whatsoever.

The quote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” by Albert Einstein is most certainly appropriate in this case indeed. We need different thoughts, ideas, and resolutions that caused those issues in the first place.

Knowing oneself is the beginning of wisdom since it allows us to extrapolate that understanding to other people, and the world as well.

It teaches you about others

The power of knowing yourself is that it teaches you how others think, and consequently, behave. That’s because our actions are simply a representation of our mental state.

When you finally understand yourself fully, which includes the things you like about yourself, but also the characteristics you despise, then you also automatically understand others.

While each individual is different, people are more alike than they are different. Thus, the way you think and act will largely be the same as others.

It teaches you about the world

Image of the earth globe.

And finally, if you know yourself, and how others think, then you can understand how the world, and the systems in it function.

Because in the end, what makes the world go around is the people in it. It is us who keep companies and systems functioning.

And once we truly understand ourselves and those around us, is when we know how these things work and move.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom means that you can’t understand others, or how the world works if you don’t even have an apprehension of who you are, and how you think.

There’s an incredible well of knowledge stored inside each one’s body, or rather, mind. When you understand yourself, both your good and bad traits, then you can extrapolate this knowledge to other people as well. That’s why understanding your shadow side is so essential to figure out yourself and those around us.

Who said knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom?

Image of a statue of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher.
The quote, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” was first said by Aristotle, the famous ancient Greek philosopher.
He figured that understanding yourself extends to our personal and professional lives, and that it allowed us to understand those around us.

Who is Aristotle?

Aristotle was a past philosopher and polymath. He covered a wide range of subjects such as psychology, physics, metaphysics, poetry, ethics, logics, and politics.
He was born in 384 before Christ (BC) in Greece, and died in 322 BC.

Why is knowing yourself important?

Knowing yourself is essential since it allows you to make sense of yourself, but perhaps even more essential, of others and the world as well.
Despite each individual’s uniqueness, people are still more alike than they are different. Thus, truly understanding yourself means you have figured out how others think and act as well.

Understanding yourself means you have to examine yourself by being introspective and self-aware. This increased knowledge of your own character can create deeper, and more loving relationships with others.

Why it is important to know yourself first?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.
It is important to know yourself first, since knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom.
You need to know yourself first to figure out what you want in life, what you value, what you detest, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. In short, it’s essential to decipher what makes you tick.
Once you fully know yourself, you understand other people, and how the world churns as well, since knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom.

Analyzing yourself means you need to be self-conscious in addition to introspective in order to do so.

How do you start knowing yourself?

  1. Examine your current self

    Examining your current self is the start to truly understanding yourself.

    It involves visualizing where you currently stand in life in addition to where you want to be 3 months, 1 year, and even 10 years down the road. It means looking objectively at your strengths, but also your weaknesses to work on.

    The most important thing is to look at yourself honestly, objectively, and with an open mind. Don’t try to pretend that you’re better than you actually are. Try to look at yourself candidly instead of whom you would like yourself to be.

    Having a mental representation to aim at is good, but you shouldn’t pretend to be someone you’re not just for the sake of feeling, or seeming, superior.

  2. Visualize who you want to be

    Visualizing who you want to be is a great way to get a clear picture of whom you’d like to be in the future.

    Knowing who you want to become gives you a new perspective, and the much-needed knowledge of the things you need to change, improve, or quit in order to reach those lofty goals.

    My recommendation would be to look forward multiple years instead of just months. Make a plan where you want to stand in life in 6 months, but also in 2 years, and even in 5–10 years.

  3. Examine your passions

    Illustration of a stick man examining with a magnifying glass.

    Examining where your passions lie serves multiple purposes. It allows you to realize where your interests lie that are the most valuable, and exciting to you.

    The other function it has is guiding you towards your strengths. Because the work you’re most interested and excited about is typically the line of work you will excel in the most.

    While working on your weaknesses is important, playing to your strengths is key. Stay true to yourself and your own positive characteristics.

  4. Explore your strengths and weaknesses

    Exploring your strengths and weaknesses helps you to map what you should be working on, and what you’re already excelling at. A SWOT analysis can help you to visualize your positive, and less desirable traits.

    Just because something is your strength doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on it, or that it can’t be improved, either. We know that we’re usually most successful when we play to our strengths rather than our weaknesses.

    But eliminating, or reducing, glaring holes in our abilities is also essential to cover all bases and to allow us to thrive.

  5. Discover what you value, and what you dislike about yourself

    What things in life are most critical to you? Is it your career? Your friends? How much money you earn? The path towards self-improvement and self-actualization? What do you dislike about yourself? What things would you rather not do in life?

    These are all good questions to figure out what you value in life, and what you dislike about yourself.

    Try to do more things that are influential to you, while reducing, or eliminating, the things you don’t like about yourself. It’s wrong to think about yourself as something that’s simply decided by genes and environment.

    We can change ourselves, although it’s admittedly very hard. But we must take ownership over our own lives, and over our past, and future choices.

  6. Try new things

    The quote, “never be afraid to try something new, because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know” written in white letters on a grayish background.

    You should never be afraid to try new things. Because in order to improve, you need to be willing to change things up. And attempting to alter things means the risking the possibility for failure.

    Even daring to think about yourself, your abilities, your strengths, and weak points involves a lot of courage. That’s why being daring enough to try unexplored territories is necessary to gain opportunities to better yourself.

    And we know that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. We need to create our own luck.

  7. Evaluate your current skill set

    Evaluating your current skill set involves looking at what your capabilities are at this very moment.

    It teaches you a lot about what you’ve been doing for the past months, years, and even your whole lifetime that led to you gaining these skills, or possibly, the lack thereof.

    When we’re lacking something in our current abilities, then that means we have been doing something wrong, or not up to par. And that’s what we need to know in order to change it for the better.

  8. Learn new things

    Trying out new things will cause you to learn new stuff. Acquiring new abilities involves attempting new stuff. And things we’re unfamiliar with will always be challenging and hard at first.

    The things you actually need to learn to better your life lie at the other side of the road, outside your comfort zone. And it’s exactly that place that we typically tend to avoid because we’re scared, or feeling insecure.

    Again, being courageous enough to push through, and to attempt these new scary things will transform you into a new, better version of yourself.

  9. Question yourself

    A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

    Questioning yourself is what you’ve been doing up until now, and it’s what you need to continue to do to learn more about yourself, and to figure out how you can change your fate. That’s how you create a growth mindset.

    What am I doing that I could do better? What should I stop doing? How can I be happier? How can I earn more money? How can I become more valuable to the people I love?

    All these are valid questions to learn more about yourself in addition to your values.

  10. Journal your discoveries

    Journaling your discoveries is a great way to track your progress. Making something visual is always more objective than simply going by feeling, which is subjective. And we need to be impersonal in order to structurally improve something.

    Write down actions such as what you value, what you like and don’t like about yourself, what you would want to change, and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

What is an example of knowing yourself?

An example of knowing yourself includes, but is not limited to understanding your own values, beliefs, thoughts, and actions.

It’s about figuring out what makes you tick. What drives you to get out of bed, what do you find valuable in life, and what do you want to achieve in life.

What is the beginning of all wisdom?

Aristotle probably said it best.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

This means that you must first understand yourself, and how your mind works, in order to become wise. This involves acquiring new knowledge.

What is the key to knowing yourself?

Image of a golden key in front of a black background.

The key(s) to knowing yourself are being self-conscious, and introspective.

This allows you to figure out your temperament, mission, interests, values, activities, and positives in life.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom synonyms

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom has many synonyms and different variations such as:

  • To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom
  • Knowing oneself is the beginning of wisdom
  • Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom
  • Knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom
  • Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom

While the wording is slightly different, the meaning remains by and large the same.

Final note

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Knowing oneself is the beginning of wisdom. But to accomplish that incredible feat, we must be willing to fail, be brave, and be self-examining.

Make sure to properly understand yourself before judging and trying to understand others. Analyze your good personality traits, but also the characteristics about yourself you deem to be negative, or unwanted.

That way, you know what you want to achieve in life, how to get it, and what to shift in order to reach your dreams.

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