© Brainstash, Inc

AboutCuratorsJobsPress Kit

Khalid Faez








Ideas read


Stashed ideas


Published articles


Knowing Yourself

Self-knowledge is the ultimate knowledge, and to know yourself is to know the meaning of life. There are millions of things we could know about ourselves, ranging from anecdotal to emotional or psychological matters. There are certain key bits of self-knowledge that we think might benefit us, like our work talents, or a partner who would be compatible with us.

Self-knowledge provides us with a route to a happy and fulfilling life. A lack of self-knowledge makes our lives accidental.


Know Yourself

  1. Choosing the right partner: We often look at a partner who is kind, attractive or fun to be with. We don’t consider our own neurotic, unbalanced or immature behaviour, and how it would affect our partner.
  2. Childhood patterns are repeated: Like the ‘bad boy’ syndrome, most of us repeat unhealthy patterns from our childhood unconsciously, going for people who will be miserable for us in ways that are familiar to us.

Without self-knowledge, we are vague about what we want to do with our lives.

Money always tends to be an urgent need, and we rush towards jobs that lock us into cages for decades, and we start to believe we are good for nothing, or not cut out for bigger roles.

Without self-knowledge, we have hunches on what makes us happy: We wrongly calculate what our purchases, or impulse buys would make us feel. We travel to a certain place and feel disappointed. We buy the latest dress, hoping to look good, but are only surrendering to consumerism.

Without knowing ourselves, we cannot spend money in a fulfilling way.

  1. The unconscious mind performs most of our tasks and even how we behave.
  2. Our mind is divided into three parts: the primitive the limbic(emotions and memories) and the neocortex (higher reasoning). We are mostly operating from the primitive or emotional parts of the brain, resulting in a lack of self-inquiry.
  3. There is a natural resistance to unravelling the unconscious into the conscious, as we do not tap into ourselves out of fear of knowing the truth.
  4. We are not given adequate feedback about our own identity by others, who dislike us or don’t want to hurt us. For example: Friends don’t want to sound impolite or upset us.
  5. We haven’t lived long enough to realize the importance of self-knowledge, and haven’t tried out stuff to know the difference through experience. Example: While choosing the right career, we are still in a trial-and-error mode, switching from one job to another.
  6. We are vague in our judgement, and are living life in binary mode, where things are either good or bad, black or white, sweet or sour.
  7. We aren’t introspecting enough, as we don’t know that we can self-analyse or opt for psychotherapy, unpackaging our thoughts.
  1. Repetition Compulsion: We tend to go for a certain type, which may be tied to our childhood suffering, and in our unconscious search for a partner we would find suitable, we are repeatedly drawn towards a problematic person, and lack the self-knowledge to see the pattern.
  2. Projection: Our assumptions, beliefs, biases and thought patterns project themselves on others, and certain ambiguous situations are taken to be something else depending on the state of our mind.
  1. Confrontation styles: We are having four kinds of styles when we confront others: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive. Our behaviour depends on the situation we are in.
  2. Criticism: We respond to criticism in a variety of ways, like denial, self-loathing, acceptance or positive transformation.
  1. Vague Ambitions: We talk of helping others, or being creative, or changing the world. Admirable they may be, but the ambitions are vague because we don’t know ourselves.
  2. Attitudes To Ambition: Most of us suffer from a problematic attitude towards success. Our thoughts move us towards inaction and doubt, leading to failure. Our attitude makes us apply conditions to our happiness(I will be happy when I have this), leading to misery.

Self-knowledge makes us understand how we impact others, allowing us to adjust ourselves, being more interested in the other person rather than just ourselves.

Strangers are surprisingly good at guessing stuff about us, though we find it difficult to grasp. We don’t realize what information we give out to others, or how our behaviour annoys them. They might find us hogging the limelight or only talking about our own struggles and experience, unable to be impressed by what others are doing.

  1. How We Feel About Our Family: We all have complicated feelings towards our family members, and may have unconscious attitudes and biases that can play havoc. It can be guilt, envy or disloyalty.
  2. Blame And Self-knowledge: We blame our parents for things that are clearly not their domain. They may not be perfect, but it doesn’t help to shift all responsibility to your guardians and be miserable or emotionally crippled your whole life.
  • Self-knowledge can describe accurately how one is feeling, through introspection or self-inquiry.
  • Knowing yourself also means being aware of your self-machinery, or how your mind operates and distorts the world around you.
  • The primitive, part of our brain is interested in our survival and does not have the capacity for morality, empathy or being deeply insightful.
  • The evolved, mature brain, the neocortex, which came much later, is sophisticated but is not as strong as the primitive brain.
  • Our hopes, fears and desires belong to our reptilian minds and overpower us most of the time.
  1. Developing a capacity to observe our basic instincts: The times when our minds are free from subjectivity, defensiveness and self-justification(like late at night when it is quiet), we get a glimpse of truth, a tiny moment of wisdom or insight about how we behave.
  2. Developing a capacity to understand other people’s behaviour: We normally react automatically, almost reflexively, to how others behave. Our natural reaction matches the primitive action we see in others. A better option is to understand the person’s primitive action as a sign of distress and hurt, rather than their being evil.

We are always more inclined to believe in what we feel.

When we become suspicious of our feelings and try to trust data and our rational mind, we move beyond biases and prejudice that exist in our feelings and emotions.

Many of our mental processes, mood swings and irrational behaviour can be explained by simple facts like not being hydrated, not being fully rested, being stressed, or being hungry. These physiological reasons can be the real culprit and make tiny problems seem enormous, but it takes a higher consciousness to realize the same.

Example: Not having breakfast and going to a tricky meeting can have us considering resignation.

According to a Buddhist world-view, our anxieties and worries are not really important or purposeful but only seem so. Buddhist meditation wants our thoughts and anxieties to bother us less and tells us that these thoughts are nonsensical or meaningless.

Philosophical meditation does the same but does not tell us to empty our minds and discard the thoughts, as they are signals with complex clues that can help us develop ourselves.

  • Set aside 20 minutes on a daily basis and sit with a paper and pencil, asking yourself simple questions like: What am I regretful, anxious or excited about in the present moment?
  • Write down what comes to your mind immediately without censoring or thinking. Do it as unselfconsciously as you can.

As we practice this meditation, we help ourselves by understanding our internal conflicts, desires and problems, and find clear insights in the otherwise confusing set of chaos and floating thoughts. Problems don’t go away, but demystify themselves, becoming manageable.

We can get to know ourselves by conversing with others, but not how we think a conversation should be. The key to a great conversation is asking the right questions and then listening well.

Some examples: Think about what flaws of yours you want to be treated in a better way, or what compliments would you like to get; Ask about some incident they want to apologize for.

Be vulnerable, foolish and real. Talk your heart out.

  • People with self-knowledge are less prone to blame their problem on others.
  • They admit to the full extent of responsibility when things go wrong.
  • They are less frustrated at work, even though they don’t have the perfect job.
  • When problems arise, they don’t panic, as they are in control of the psychological fear, like humiliation, rejection or boredom.
  • They are not envious, less stressful, and apologize as soon as a mistake is committed.
  • They tend to be great conversationalists and they feel complete within themselves.
The standard candle method

If we know the intrinsic brightness of an object in space - that is, how bright an object really is - then we can estimate its distance from how bright it appears to us from Earth.

  • One type of standard candle is a 'Cepheid variable'. Cepheid variables are a type of star that has a consistent relationship between their intrinsic brightness and how fast they pulsate. (If it pulsates at x speed, you know its intrinsic brightness is y.)
  • Supernovae is another kind of standard candle and allows astronomers to calculate to the standard candle's home galaxy.

How do we calculate distances to other galaxies?

The 'Hubble-Lemaître' law is more useful for calculating distant galaxies. The law shows that the further the galaxy is from Earth, the faster it moves away from us - the consequence of the Universe expanding.

The galaxy's speed is measured by analysing the shift in the galaxy's light towards the red end of its light spectrum. Once the speed is known, astronomers can work out its distance.

The three why’s

Before acting on a decision, ask yourself “Why?” Follow up your response with another “Why?” And then a third. 

If you can find three good reasons to pursue something, you’ll have clarity and be more confident in your actions.

Self-Awareness Exercises That Fuel Success

Expand your emotional vocabulary

Putting your feelings into words has a therapeutic effect on your brain; if you’re unable to articulate how you feel, that can create stress. 

Practice saying 'no' to yourself

The ability to say “no” to yourself to put off short-term gratification ( from daily temptations like social media or junk food) for the long-term gain is an important life-skill. 

Like a muscle, it is strengthened with exercise

Break visceral reactions

Take a deep breath before you act, especially when a situation triggers anger or frustration.

Self-awareness allows you to assess situations objectively and rationally, without acting on biases and stereotypes.

Be aware of your flaws

We’re often critical of others, while ignorant of our own flaws. Self-awareness helps turn the mirror on ourselves and prevents hypocritical behavior.

Create a habit of acknowledging your mistakes, rather than making excuses.

Monitor your self-talk

Pay attention to the way you respond to your successes and failures.

Being tough on yourself needs to be balanced with self-compassion. Celebrate your wins, forgive your losses.

Body language awareness

Record a speech or presentation and evaluate your posture and hand gestures.

  • Slouching increases cortisol and feeds low self-esteem while standing tall stimulates testosterone and improves your performance. 
  • Using hand gestures helps with articulating your thoughts and affects how people respond to you.
Take an opposing view

It will force you to question your assumptions.

Your "default" beliefs and worldview are not always reasonable; it’s healthy to “argue against yourself” and see how your views hold up.

Know your personality type

It will allow you to maximize your strengths and manage your weaknesses.

Start with understanding where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum; know your Myers-Briggs type; and then conduct a personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

Practice self-evaluation

Set regular goals, break big goals down into smaller milestones. 

Ask yourself at the end of each day, “What did I do well today?” and, “How can I improve on this tomorrow?”

It helps you cut through self-deceit and one-dimensional views you might hold. 

But only ask people who understand you, whom you respect and will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.


It is a foundational practice for improving self-awareness. To focus solely on your breathing is to focus on a key internal process. 

You’ll become aware of how your mind wanders, and get better at snapping out of distractions.

Learning from old experiences

When looking back on her previous journal entries, Virginia Woolf remarked that she often found the significance to lie where she never saw it at the time.

Reading your old journal entries is a bit like reading a great book for a second time. You pick up on new sentences and see the past in a different way.

The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day

Journaling sharpens your memory

Our beliefs change slowly as we gain experience. Journal entries remind you of how you once thought.

Time will change your face without you noticing, but it will also change your thoughts without you realizing it.

Journaling motivates you

There is something about knowing that your day will be recorded that makes you want to make at least one good choice before the sun sets.

When you have a bad day, it can be easy to forget how much progress you have made. But with a journal, it's easier to keep a sense of perspective.

One glance at your previous entries and you have proof of how much you have grown over the months and years.

Write one sentence per day.

The primary advantage of journaling one sentence each day is that it makes journaling fun. It's easy to do. It's easy to feel successful. And if you feel good each time you finish journaling, then you'll keep coming back to it.

  • What happened today? (Daily journal)
  • What am I grateful for today? (Gratitude journal)
  • What is my most important task today? (Productivity journal)
  • How did I sleep last night? (Sleep journal)
  • How do I feel today? (Mood journal)

Leave 31 lines underneath each prompt. One line for each day of the month. This is where you'll write your one sentence each day. Once the month is complete, you can look back on 31 beautiful journal entries per prompt.

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

This Will Be The #1 Business Skill Of The Next 5 Years

Workers and Leaders Need To Tell Good Stories

As freelancing is becoming common, people with powerful personal brands have a leg up on getting jobs and being promoted. And personal brands are built on, among other things, telling and sharing great stories.

Stories help us hold attention, remember and persuade. Savvy leaders tell stories to inspire and motivate us as they understand that “what you say” is often moot compared to “how you say it.” 

Businesses Need To Tell Good Stories

Most CMOs think content is the future of marketing and that branded content is superior to PR, direct mail, and print advertising.

As the people get used to interacting with companies and most corporations start thinking of themselves as publishers, the defining characteristic among the successful ones will be the ability to not just spew content, but to craft compelling stories.

The Power Of Storytelling

Stories makes us think and feel and are an essential drivers of change for humans.

Although it can be hard to tell a good story, in the modern world, storytelling is becoming essential. As we spend increasing amounts of time consuming content, businesses and individuals who master storytelling have more opportunities to stand out, spread messages, and make change through storytelling.

The Origin Of Robots In Pop Culture
  • Robots have been a staple of science fiction movies for decades, and we now have robots of all shapes and sizes in real life.
  • The conceptualization of an entity which is not human and yet displays human-like characteristics along with special traits like perfect memory and work-efficiency was done by Karl Čapek in a play titled R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Robots in 1921, exactly hundred years ago.
  • The term robot was borrowed from a Czech word ‘robota’ which means forced labourer or slave.

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since?

Robots have been in the popular culture for the past century, but the concept of human beings creating something that resembles them but is different or flawed, goes back to the early 19th century, with Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein.

Stories involving robots and similar synthetic creatures often involve them lacking human elements and emotions, and the introduction of such feelings forms the basis of the plot.

The robots dreamt up over the last hundred years have similar traits:

  • Highly efficient mechanical or genetically modified/cloned humans created artificially through an industrial process.
  • Doing mundane tasks that humans used to do with precision and without the need of rest.
  • Being extremely rational and logical, lacking the human element of uncertainty and unpredictability.
  • A danger to humanity, with the potential to destroy human civilization.
  • Robots mixed with capitalism, nationalism, or rapid technological progress becoming a highly dangerous cocktail of destruction.
  • Robots reading human history and concluding that murder and conquest is the norm.

We are unconsciously transferring our desires, fears, violence and genocidal tendencies to the synthetic creatures.

Whether it is the 1921 play R.U.R., or Avengers movie Age Of Ultron, robots who gain sentience or consciousness are almost always hell-bent on committing genocide, eradicating mankind in the most ruthless and efficient manner. This may be due to us making robots (or even artificial intelligence) in our own image, much like the stories of Gods that we have read.

When we obtain our desires, needs and wants, we quickly get accustomed to it, taking those shiny toys for granted, and easily getting bored with them. We mistakenly look for happiness in this hedonic adaptation, a thirst that never gets quenched.

Short bursts of happiness that diminish after a week don't represent real happiness.

Negative Visualization Is the Antidote to Hedonic Adaptation

Our Happiness Formula Is Wrong

We have, since the beginning, a wrong formula implanted in our minds about the pursuit of happiness. We think if we do amazing work, attain big success, then we will be happy eventually.

The reality is that new goals are constantly on the horizon, and our so-called happiness keeps getting pushed further and further away. This leads to a feeling of emptiness, not happiness or contentment when a goal is fulfilled.

The real formula for success is to be happy first. If you are happy, and your work is great as a result, excellence is assured, which leads to success.

A happy person gravitates towards positivity, intelligence, creativity and better energy, and success then has no choice but to be associated with the person.

A famous study chronicling the life of the lucky lottery winners had a startling lesson: Within one year, all of the lucky people reported the same level of happiness as before they had the windfall, with many coming off worse than before.

On the other end, many people who have had tragic disabilities in life, end up normalizing the same and returning to the original level of happiness within one year. Extreme events, negative or positive, do not permanently change our level of happiness.

Imagining possible negative scenarios vividly provides us with an alternate life which is unbearable. By consciously thinking about losing what we have, we start to appreciate and be grateful for all that is bought by us or is gifted to us, like a loving family, or the car we drive.

By thinking negatively, we push the arrow backwards on the bow, providing it strength to move forward towards positivity at a greater velocity.

Defining fractal patterns

A fractal pattern is a basic pattern that repeats at different scales.

  • Exact fractals repeat exactly at every scale, for example, the growth spiral of a plant.
  • Statistical fractals repeat in similar but not identical fashion across scales and are not spatially symmetrical, for example, clouds, mountains, rivers, and trees.

By the age of 3, children appreciate nature's fractal patterns

Fractal patterns have always been apparent in nature, from seeds and pinecones to ferns. Now they are becoming more evident in man-made objects.

Studies revealed that children as young as three consistently preferred common fractal patterns. Prior to these studies, exposure to fractal patterns was expected to vary across a person's lifespan due to environmental and developmental patterns.

Exposure to fractal patterns in nature can reduce your stress levels significantly. Some research indicates that certain types of artwork containing fractal patterns can also promote relaxation.

To benefit from fractal patterns, pay close attention to the patterns you see when taking a walk in nature, visiting a park, or watching the clouds for a while.

The atomic bomb
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, is credited with the creation of the atomic bomb. Oppenheimer does not regret playing a part in the war effort, but he feels that the way the atomic bomb was used wasn't right. Japan could have been warned about what the bomb meant.
  • Albert Einstein, who made the bomb possible, believed Germany was attempting to create an atomic bomb to use against the allies in World War II. He later regretted it. He said had he known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, he would not have proceeded.

10 Inventors Who Came to Regret Their Creations

Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the rifle for the Russian army. It was a simple and cheap automatic rifle that caused more deaths than any other assault rifle.

Kalashnikov later wrote in a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox church, "If my rifle claimed people's lives, can it be that I…, an Orthodox believer, am to blame for their deaths, even if they are my enemies?"