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How well do you really know you?

Who am I? What is my purpose? What am I here for?


These are common questions we need to engage at some stage in our life on the march towards adulthood. We look to gain increased clarity of who we are, what we stand for and what we want out of life. These questions help us to stay true to ourselves and find a deeper understanding of who we are.

How many times have you been in a situation where you have reacted or behaved in an unusual way only to walk away thinking “Why did I react like that?” or “Why did I say that?” It’s as though from time to time we slip into an altered state of being where something happens that triggers a dysfunctional set of behaviours leading us to feel as though we just don’t understand ourselves. Not understanding the way we think, act, speak or behave can bring upon feelings of self-doubt, frustration and low self-esteem, amongst a host of unproductive behaviours and emotions.

Worse still, some people are oblivious to the effects of their “contaminated” behaviour because they have been slipping into this state for so long and so often that they think it’s normal.

So what could be the explanation behind the shift in our pattern of behaviour?

Several decades ago, a psychotherapist named Taibi Kahler had a remarkable breakthrough, discovering that there are six types of dysfunctional behaviour which he called “distress patterns”, with each of these patterns being predictable, sequential and observable.

Based on Taibi’s research and findings it is clear there are several factors that contribute to each of our distress behaviours. A person will slip into an unproductive distress mindset if his/her primary psychological need is not being met. A person’s primary psychological need is directly linked to that individual’s personality structure.

Evidently each of us have very different ‘make ups’ (personality structures) which in turn means our psychological needs are going to vary from person to person.

What is an example of a psychological need? ….One simple yet common need is the desire for recognition (the desire to be liked). This need is present in each of us to some degree however the level in which is it present will vary for each of us. Someone with a very strong desire to be liked may present with distress behaviour patterns should they feel they were not liked. They may react through displaying emotions such as becoming upset or feeling a low self- worth due to the fact they validate their own self through others.

The unfortunate reality of society is that many people are naively meandering through the journey of life unaware of their personality structure and the primary psychological needs that need to be aligned in order to enable a deeply satisfying and productive mindset and associated life experience. Developing an understanding of this will assist us in the journey of understanding ourselves as individuals, why we do certain things, feel certain ways and what it is that we ‘need’ or ‘desire’ in life in order to bring us a sense of fulfilment.

How well do you think you currently understand yourself? Before we go deeper into the various elements of personality structure and psychological needs present in each of us let’s start with answering the below. Write down the following:

  • What do you enjoy doing and what do you find ‘fun’? (challenging activities, reading a book on a beach etc)

  • What causes you to become frustrated or feel uncomfortable? Give an example of a situation (for e.g Not being recognised for your efforts, when things do not happen quick enough for you, when things do not go to plan etc)

  • What are you really good at/what are your strengths?

If you have a story of your own about self-exploration or particular experiences you have encountered, please do share them.

In my next blog we will look further into each of the 6 distress patterns of behaviour and what they look like, so you can begin to identify what yours are!


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