Tag Archives: Self-improvement

Questions to Understand Yourself Better


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

But what does that mean?

I googled “know thyself” and found many interpretations. So I’ll define it the best I can, and you can refine or edit my definition as you see fit.

To know yourself is to be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, to celebrate your uniqueness, and to strive toward an ideal.

The Bible says we are made in God’s image (see Genesis 1:26); therefore, we have great potential for love (because God is love—see 1 John 4:16). And because God is the Creator, we are also creators, though not on as grand a scale. But unlike God, we are not perfect. Our human condition can always use a tune up.

The tune up starts with examining ourselves and taking stock.

The examination can take many forms. Meditation. Journaling. Asking ourselves questions.

Here are some questions to help you know yourself better:

  • How am I loving? How do I interact with the people in my life—my family, my friends, my coworkers, my neighbors, my superiors, my acquaintances? Am I helpful? Critical? Kind? Judgmental? Generous? Competitive?
  • Does my work contribute to society? (Sometimes it may be hard to tell. Easy jobs to evaluate: brain surgeon, yes; bank robber, no. The more mundane occupations get a little harder: supermarket checker, yes; waste management engineer, yes; professional gambler, no. Professional football player, that’s a hard call.) If your work helps only yourself, maybe you should check out the next question.
  • What am I doing to make the world a better place? Am I volunteering? Am I donating money to good causes? When I see someone in distress, do I stop and help? Do I clean up my own messes?
  • What do I do well? What are my skills and my gifts? How am I using them?
  • What are one or two skills or qualities where I am lacking? Am I patient? Do I keep in touch with my friends and extended family? Am I physically fit? Is my spending out of control?

The reason for asking yourself questions like these are to understand yourself, so that you can use your resources wisely. You may want to “spend” yourself more effectively. You may find things about yourself that you want to change. Knowing yourself truly is a path to wisdom, a way to grow and to live wisely.

Why am I including an article about knowing yourself on ARHtistic License? Because your self-knowledge informs your art. Whether you are a quilter, a songwriter, a visual artist, or a writer, what you create comes from deep within yourself. Your art can be part of the healing process for yourself and for others who experience your creations. Knowing yourself will make you a better creator.

If your self-examination reveals way more negatives than positives, you may be suffering from depression, or guilt, or low self-esteem, and you may need some help getting out of your slump. Counseling may be in order. At very least, sit down with someone you trust and talk about your concerns. Sometimes someone who knows you very well will be able to point out strengths you didn’t know you had.

Creative Juice #249

Creative Juice #249

Works of art. Personal experiences. Articles to enrich your weekend.

Stifle your Inner Pessimist


Merriam-Webster defines pessimism as “an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome.” We all have our moments when we view our glasses as half-empty, but when people are plagued by pessimism, frankly, they’re no fun to be around.

Often, people become pessimistic when they are under stress. Losing a loved one or a job, or experiencing a crisis such as a fire, an accident, or an illness can color your outlook with gloom.

But pessimism harms you:

  • By stealing your joy when something good happens, because you anticipate everything that could go wrong (yes, she agreed to go out with me, but when she finds out I earn minimum wage, she’ll dump me for someone richer)
  • By preventing you from making positive changes in your life, because you fear you’ll fail (I could apply for a promotion, but if I don’t get it, everyone will think I’m a loser)
  • By highlighting other people’s worst qualities, which will destroy your trust
  • By giving you a negative attitude about life, causing anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments like insomnia and high blood pressure, which can weaken you and make you susceptible to disease

Though a pessimistic attitude is harmful, there are times when a moderate amount of pessimism is useful:

  • When you’re contemplating an investment, you’re more likely to scrutinize it to be sure it’s a solid opportunity for you
  • When someone phones you with a deal that’s too good to be true, you’re less likely to fall for a scam
  • When someone you know to be unreliable makes a promise, you won’t count on them, so you’ll create a backup plan; or you’ll be pleasantly surprised when they keep their word
  • When you’re asked to take on a responsibility that you know is out of your skill set, you’ll find it easier to decline

Nevertheless, too much pessimism will affect you negatively. It’s important to change your mindset to allow for positivity. Some strategies to try:

  • When something you anticipate being problematic actually goes smoother than you expected, celebrate it! Say out loud, “That went better than I thought it would.” Analyze what went right—the customer service representative knew just how to handle your concern (be sure to thank him); the miscalculation you made was caught and corrected before it had a chance to affect anything; the work product you thought was too ordinary turned out to be exactly what the client was hoping for. Then file your success in your memory bank to refer to when you’re in a similar situation.
  • If you suspect your friends are avoiding you, do a little honest introspection. When you get together, do you vent your frustrations? Talk about all your problems? Shoot down possible solutions? Try this little experiment. Call one of your friends, and ask him something about his life. How was his vacation? What did he do, who did he see? Listen, and resist the impulse to steer the conversation onto a negative topic. Instead, ask more questions about your friend’s experiences.
  • When you have to do something you’re worried about, instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong, imagine what the best possible outcomes would look like. Is there something you could do to prepare for a good result? Maybe wear an outfit that makes you feel more professional? Do a little research or review policies? Tape an affirmation over your desk?

Creative Juice #187

Creative Juice #187

Don’t spend one more day not knowing about these things:

Creative Juice #180

Creative Juice #180

Pretty things and creepy things. Great ideas and sad thoughts.

  1. Gorgeous creepy crawlers.
  2. A different kind of book nook. I didn’t know these were a thing.
  3. Do you have lots of scraps in your fabric stash? Here are some ideas of what to do with them.
  4. Photography on grass.
  5. Suicide’s painful legacy. Don’t do it. Ask for help.
  6. Amazing underwater photography.
  7. This Vile painter will make you see through walls.
  8. If your favorite cartoon characters were fossils. . .
  9. A gorgeous travel-sketch-journal to inspire you.
  10. I’m sharing this post about the Road to California quilt show especially because it features a quilt made by the fabulous Cindy Stohn.
  11. Read these 25 excellent suggestions for improving your life and be encouraged.
  12. Nathalie goes to Austin. (I have a friend who lives there. Now that I know how cool it is, I’ll have to go visit her. . .)

Creative Juice #172

Creative Juice #172




Creative stuff from all over the internet.



Creative Juice #165

Creative Juice #165

A dozen neat things to enjoy this weekend.

Creative Juice #158

Creative Juice #158

Beautiful and interesting stuff here.

Creative Juice #153

Creative Juice #153

Twelve articles to inspire you.

In the Meme Time: Habits for Artists


Habits for Writers