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“Know thyself!” – The path from “Selfie” to “Self”

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“Know thyself!” – The path from “Selfie” to “Self”

“Know yourself!” Is what the wise Greek philosopher Socrates once said. He further said that an “unexamined life was not worth living”. I think this ancient wisdom remains to be extremely relevant today.

In our over-connected world it has become so easy to just ask Google for answers or check your social media news stream for trending topics. Quickly people tend to just adapt the answers of what they skipped through in the 2-minutes-of-headline-surfing, aka reading. Many people tend to not do deeper reading anymore, data analysis or even a mindful check-in with themselves before answering a raised question or just sharing a status-update. That is also how fake news get distributed so easily.

When we need to find our way somewhere, we check our smartphone for navigation. We need to call someone, our phone has all our friends’ numbers and details. Facebook and LinkedIn remember birthdays for us – basically almost anything is just one click away right at our fingertips.

Please do not delegate everything to technology. Empathy does not exist in the app store! 

Always-On can be a blessing and a curse at once. It is the beauty of technology that it makes life easier in so many ways. We get a much quicker access to a high quantity of information and people. Speed and data have become the new currencies today. But people seem to be addicted to speed and getting answers from the web quickly has become a performance indicator. In fact, we have become highly dependent on our little digital assistants and we are delegating more and more senses to our technology. The sense of orientation and memory are maybe just the start. That is where I see the risk. We should be mindful of what we are delegating and what should remain in our own power. Because being in line with yourself, your feelings, your empathy, your dignity and your 5 senses is very important in order to stay present and mindful in the here and now.

In this moment…What do I see? What do I taste? What do I hear? What do I feel? What do I sense?

These are popular questions raised in mindfulness trainings. It helps to get to know ourselves better. It is about observing and watching yourself consciously- your actions,  your feelings, your thoughts. This leads to a better understanding of “self”.  Self-knowledge is important because it offers us a way to greater happiness. Knowing what you are made of can lead to a higher feeling of fulfillment. In my book I call this the route to your authentic self – the path from Selfie to Self. 

We all know what a Selfie is. But do we also know our selves?

“From Selfie to Self”, Illustration: Celia Krietsch from the book “Achtsamkeit in digitalen Zeiten” by L.Güntsche

Living your “authentic self” is about living your own truth, values and potential. It is about authenticity, which has become rare today (check blog: “Authenticity is sexy“). It is less about showing or presenting one version of reality to the virtual world and more about just being who you truly are – without hiding and being scared to show.

WHO ARE YOU? How would you describe yourself to a stranger? What key qualities do you have? What do your closest friends say about you?

In order to really connect with your own, authentic self again, it can sometimes mean to switch-off entirely from time to time – in order to hear your inner voice again (and not just the ringing and beeping of our smartphones). Also I think it can help to ask yourself questions on a daily basis and write them down in a little “me-time”- journal. Make it a ritual to priotize yourself.

3 questions to ask yourself daily 

  1. What am I grateful for today? And why? 
    Here you can find out what really matters in your life. Tracking what you are really grateful for, makes you more aware of the things, hobbies, moments and people that really count. It also helps to get to know yourself better and appreciate the moment.
  2. Did I do something for myself today?
    Did you spend some time today that made you smile, happy, fulfilled? What did you do for your body, mind, and/or soul today? What can you do NOW? This mindful question helps to learn and become more aware of what you are passionate about and fulfills you. 30 minutes a day should be at least devoted to you! I call this “me-time”. Less surfing on Instagram. Make yourself a priority and do something for yourself in real life!
  3. Why didn’t I do something for myself? Who and what kept me from that? 
    Learn about the things and people that are like soul vampires and just drag energy and time from you. Step away from negative energy sources. Surround yourself with people that build you up instead, make you smile and support you to be the best version of yourself.

Get to know your authentic self. Start your path from Selfie to Self.

These three questions hopefully provide you with a starting point to learn more about yourself. Journaling is a valuable mindfulness practice that can support you here. Of course, there are many more questions you can ask yourself daily that can help en route from “Selfie to Self”.  In my book “Achtsamkeit in digitalen Zeiten” (in engl. “mindfulness in digital times”) there is a whole chapter on that in the “AIA-Model”, with tips on practicing mindfulness in daily situations. The book is currently available in German only. I hope to have it translated with an English publisher soon to supply you with further tips for more mindfulness in our digital times. Until then I will keep sharing a few in this blog. Also please sign up here on the bottom of the page, in case you would like to be notified about any news on the English version of the book.

3 tips to further examine who you are
Source: The book of life (
  1. Reading. Besides the book “The power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, which in my opinion is one of the most important books of our time, I would also like to point out to you the book of life which I recently came across online. It is a nice, free source of inspiration on ancient wisdom. Also the Book of Life offers a self-knowledge quiz with many good questions to learn about your authentic self. This might also help you to further examine who you are and can be a further “me-time journaling exercise” you potentially enjoy.
  2. Mindfulness practice and Meditation. The moment you embrace the silence and learn to be still, you get disconnected from all the noise. That is a very deliberating feeling where potentially new horizons open. It is kind of like closing all the tabs in your browser and starting from scratch, with an empty desktop – it is a reboot of yourself. Deepak Chopra offers a free 21-days online meditation course right now, which you can access here. Also the Calm App with “7 Days of Calm” and Headspace App with “Take 10” offer good mindfulness programs to start with for free.
  3. Interaction and personal development workshops. If you would like to rather interact, sign up for a personal development workshop. I can, for instance, recommend to you the Socratic Design workshops my friends Rudy De Waele and Humberto Schwab run. I participated in my first one exactly one year ago and it helped me reflect on my values and the deeper meaning of life (See blog post here). Here you can check current dates for the Socratic Design workshops.

Let me know how it goes and please feel free to get in touch or comment.

No matter which path you chose, start today! Put your smartphone away every now and then, free yourself from always-on, get inspired by new things and never stop learning about yourself.

“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates