To Change Yourself You Must Know Yourself

September 2, 2017 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

To become different from what you are, you must have some awareness of what you are.” From Bruce Lee’s insightful philosophy of life

Okay. Let’s get vulnerable. I recently returned from a charity trip to Uganda in which I encountered a level of poverty I never even imagined. I visited very rural villages where thousands of people live on $1.00 to $2.00 (max) per day. No running water or electricity or sanitation. And yet these people are happy and very friendly. As a result, I will never be the same.

From Pure Heart to Pride

It was from a pure heart that I that was able to contribute a few bucks to help. But it didn’t take long for that pure heart to transform into a bit of pride and arrogance. I disturbingly found myself thinking what a cool guy I am for helping the poor. Disgusting, but true. I encountered that fine line between purity of heart and pride. I found that I am indeed a broken human being and I don’t like it.

In order to recover my pure heart I need a change of heart. However that change could never occur without a willingness to delve into the depths of self-awareness. As Bruce Lee believed I can never change myself until I know myself—a painful and often embarrassing act. What’s even worse is the process in never-ending.

We humans are a tragically broken species. It is from our brokenness that our demons show their ugly faces driving us to do and be the kind of person we don’t like to be. But… this is good when we take the time for self-reflection.

Moral Inventory

In the 12-Step Program we are encouraged to take a daily “inventory” of our moral shortcomings (as well as our successes). For me, journaling is the process I use to evaluate my deepest inner self. And then, if I am fortunate to be surrounded by kind and brave people, they will inform me of my shortcomings. It doesn’t mean everything they say is true, but it is worth pondering.

The art of knowing yourself does not insist on only looking at what needs to improve. It also includes those times you discover your kindness and gratitude and giving heart—times you want to repeat because of the way you impact your world.

Make a Conscious Choice for Self-Awareness

Part of the problem is that during the demanding years of your life (20-50), especially with children, there is little time to do the self-reflection that you may want to do. Unless you make a conscious choice to be a person of known for the quality of your character. If so, then you will make the time.

As the oft-quoted saying of Socrates goes, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” May I encourage you to make a life worth living?


Of the dozens of ways you can do self-reflection, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Journal.
  2. In the morning write three “character goals” like kindness, avoiding gossip, avoiding pride or judgmentalism. Then before hitting the bed review your day. 10 minutes a day that can change your life.
  3. Apologize quickly when you find yourself being a bit of a jerk.
  4. Every so often get yourself alone and attempt to evaluate “what kind of person have I been over the past week or month or quarter.” The impact of this decision will be life-altering.


Know Yourself

And Change Your World 

Photo courtesy Charlie Hedges in Uganda









4 thoughts on “To Change Yourself You Must Know Yourself”

  1. I’m an immigrant from Ireland ?? who embraced the opportunity of living in America with all it offers both good and bad. It’s a decision I’ve never ever regretted in the 30 years I have celebrated 4th of July along with Thanksgiving turkey dinner because I left my native land for some clearly defined reasons. The reason that resonates with me after reading Charlie’s Blog is how vulnerable his public writing is and how willingly he opens himself up to potoemtial ridicule.
    If I did this in my native land I would ( by nature of my own insecurities) be afraid to meet up with the lads down at the local Pub after a game ( hurling or Gaelic football) for fear of being laughed at for being a “weirdo” or who knows what other term. I always know from a young age that I wanted to go deep into what I was made up of ( good and bad) get a fundamental understanding of what mattered most to me and attempt to create a life of meaning that would make a difference beyond my own little self.
    I knew where I had to be and do for that to have any chance and meeting men like Charlie Hedges help me understand the little tattered card buried deep in in wallet. It reads … ” it is not the critic who counts, not the person who points out how the strong person stumbled … The credit belongs to the person who’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly who hours and come short again and again : Who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement and who in the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that its place should never be with those cold and timid souls who neither victory nor defeat ” Theodore Roosevelt 1910
    Thanks for being vulnerable enough to create a footbridge for others to cross.

  2. I’ve been following your Updates since we met – very profound, very inspiring!

    I note that your photo of the people in Africa was from instockphoto. WOL has several thousand wonderful photos taken in Uganda by professional photog Lou Metzger, whom you met. If you are interested, just ask Mike Olson how to access out Dropbox. I’d tell you, but I don’t know myself, but I have a file of about 20 that I use in my efforts.

    Thanks again for everything you are doing!

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