I feel I'm pretty good at knowing myself. I'm particularly good at knowing my faults - I tend to blame myself for things that I shouldn't, apologize when I haven't done anything wrong, and I'm notoriously tough on myself. So often times I actually try to work on not being so self-criticizing. Recently, though, I've been having difficulty with a particular situation in my life, and despite numerous efforts, I couldn't figure out me why. I tried to, ad nauseum. I analyzed, probably entirely too much, I tried different tactics to figure it out, but it just wasn't moving in the direction that I hoped.
Finally, the other day, I had a very brutally honest discussion with a close friend of mine about the situation. This friend is probably the only person in my life who can be as blunt as they are, and instead of being fuming mad, I listen. Ok, I might be fuming mad at first, but I still listen. I won't say I wasn't shocked, hurt, frustrated, and a bit angry at the whole situation, including some anger and frustration directed at myself. But I listened. I took to heart what they said. Turns out, when I look at it from an outside perspective, I was doing a lot of things - albeit unknowingly in many cases - that were making the situation worse instead of better.
Sometimes, it takes brutal honesty and a real look into yourself and at your actions from someone else's perspective. Pick the person to share this with you wisely. It needs to be someone who knows you well, and who is truly trying to help you - give you a wake up call, if you will - as opposed to someone who just wants to tell you all of your faults. The latter will be very emotionally detrimental, because the "faults" might not be accurate at all. Those people just want to knock you down to make themselves feel better. They're taking their own struggles and frustrations out on you. But when you choose someone who's genuinely trying to help you, and who you can take such honesty from, it can be very revealing. I'll warn you - it's painful. You'll be licking your wounds at first, but don't let that deter you.
Once you have this conversation, it will be a bit of a long process. Change takes time. But work at it, a little every day. Pick one thing you're going to do differently each day, even one seemingly insignificant thing. Over time, these will add up, and you'll feel more comfortable with the changes you've made.
As with anything, make sure that any changes you make are truly best for you, or for the particular situation. Don't just change because others tell you that you should. You might find some things the person said really make sense, while others may not seem right - just because someone knows you doesn't mean they understand every detail about you, so their opinion is guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate. Honor your values and those things that make you, you. The bottom line is this: always be honest with yourself. It just may be that the times that it's most painful to do so are the times you need it the most.