Self-knowledge is a key step in growing deeper in your spiritual life.
One of the most important parts of the spiritual life is understanding yourself and who you are. Each of us is uniquely created and different from everyone else. This means that our experience of spirituality will be different and our relationship with God will not be the same as our family members or friends.
Fr. Basil Maturin wrote a book in 1916 entitled Self-knowledge and Self-discipline and in it, he explains why it is so important to look inward.
There are two spheres of knowledge in which every one who is endeavouring after any growth in the spiritual life must be making some advance. The knowledge of God and the knowledge of self … The more we grow in the knowledge of God the deeper our knowledge of self, and if we would attain to any knowledge of God there must be some knowledge of self.
Both types of knowledge complement each other and are necessary to move forward in the spiritual life.
This is one of the reasons why St. Ignatius of Loyola gives specific instructions in his Spiritual Exercises to conduct a daily examination.He writes that we should “ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts.”
The goal of the daily “examen” is to express gratitude to God for the blessings received as well as ask forgiveness for any faults discovered.
If we do not know ourselves, our faults and weaknesses (as well as our strengths), we will not be able to grow in love of God or neighbor. We will be stuck in old habits, unable to move anywhere.
Maturin confirms that we cannot grow in virtue unless we first examine ourselves and fully understand our faults and where they come from.
If therefore there is to be any spiritual growth, there must be a growth in self-knowledge. We cannot make any serious attempt to conquer our sins till we know what they are.
Try to end or begin your day by looking at the previous day’s events. If you sinned, ask yourself what led up to it. If you experienced joy, what was it that led to your feelings of happiness?
The more we know about ourselves, the more we can grow in our knowledge and love of God.