Consider if you're living a lifestyle paved for you by the beliefs, expectations, and definitions created by others. How well will you actually know and love that self?
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom ~Aristotle
If you want to be successful and happy in life, you have to know who you are. In order to achieve any goal, you have to know what you truly want and how you function as a person. You can unlock your true potential when you gain insight into your true self.
One of the first ways, I think, in becoming aware of who you are is understanding your values. Values are more about how you spend your time versus what you say is important. You can say being fit and in shape is important, but if you're constantly skipping gym time to go to happy hour, that means socializing is more important to you. You have to carefully examine how you're spending your time, money, energy, and other resources. You may arrive at the realization that what you say and what you do are inconsistent. The biggest thing is to be honest about your conclusions.
Secondly, you must be willing to examine and explore your dark side. A 20th century psychologist, Carl Jung, coined the term "the shadow self." You must explore the side that not everyone gets to see. The flaws you pretend don't exist. The pain you've buried. The side that can be horribly unloving. We all have demons inside us. Every day, we fight against them – sometimes we lose, sometimes we win.
These demons haunting us can be seen either in small glimpses or in full chaos. And because of our guilt and shame, we tend to ignore and bury them.
Examining your darkness is never easy—especially if you've been through trauma. “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is,” Jung wrote. If considering the shadow sides of yourself brings about pain, suffering, or fear then it's even more important to ensure you explore in a safe place (and sometimes with a licensed therapist).
Until you embrace the entirety of your being, you will not experience true introspection. Uncovering the things festering just below the surface can lead to healing. And healing can lead to wholeness which, in turn, translates into things like improved relationships and a clearer perception of self. Admitting our flaws and being honest with ourselves can then bring us to a greater understanding of who we are and how we function in our relationships. Look within honestly today, and you will be able to see and accept who you truly are.